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Software License Considerations

So your firm has developed a new software package and wants to get it on the market. Your lawyer will want you to consider these things to protect your firm with an ironclad license agreement.

  1. You might be infringing on someone else's copyright.
  2. Present employees, former employees, independent contractors, funding sources, and competitor businesses all may claim ownership in your invention.
  3. Laws governing export controls may dictate how you launch your product and where you sell it.
  4. Copyright and/or patent is not automatic. You may need to comply with copyright notice, registration, and publication procedures. You may need to apply for a patent.
  5. What are you going to do to police your licenses and ensure that no one pirates your software?
  6. What aspects of your software are trade secrets (e.g., the architecture, empirical formulas, mathematical constants, and/or the software itself)?
  7. What form will your software license take? Will it be written, implied through use, automatic upon breaking the shrink-wrap, or through on-line registration?
  8. Are you protecting yourself from liability for harm caused by your software?
  9. How are you going to set the price for your software?
  10. What are you firm's plans with respect to release of future versions of the software or development of new software?

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