Jan 5, 2020
Are you a software developer or technology company providing software solutions ???
Well, you don’t want to miss this Podisode (Podcast + Episode) because we’re going to be discussing everything you should know about Software Protection.
I am very certain that most of us use some sort of software in our daily activities. Whether it’s use of the Uber app on our smartphones to serve our transportation needs or making financial transactions through an online banking platform or as simple as using our smart phones to send messages to loved ones far away, it’s evident that software programs are essential in today’s technology driven world and it is unimaginable to consider live without some of these softwares. Infact, in some jurisdictions, citizens have the legal right to access fast and reliable internet connection. So it’s conceivable that in the nearest future, access to certain software or applications will be considered legal rights of every human.
It is important that software creators/developers are able to fully benefit from their work and it is particularly important for the society to encourage such protection as it is the driving force of innovation in the global economy.
Why is Software Protection Important?
Protection provides the owner of the software or the software developer with the exclusive right to all aspects of the software program. It further prevents the unlawful imitation or copy of the software. Most importantly, the owner of the software can exercise economic rights by earning revenue from the commercial use of the software.
Show Note/Transcript (Excerpts from this episode)
This topic will be approached from two different spectrums; one is the contractual protection and the other is the intellectual property aspect.
A software is basically a body of programs, data and information used to convey instructions to a computer system. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A. Software Licensing agreement(SLA)
One of the ways a software can be contractually protected is through Software licensing agreements.
A software license is a contract between a software developer and the customers or endusers. It provides the licensee (that is, the enduser) the legal right to use or distribute the software created by the developer (Licensor).
Software licensing is an integral part of software innovation because it protects software programs from copyright infringements. It is created to protect the copyright of the software, and limits the ways in which the end users can utilize it.
A very good example of this is the Microsoft office suite consisting of popular programs such as; MS-word, MS-Excel and MS-PowerPoint.
As we all know, he Microsoft office suite is a productivity software used by over a billion people worldwide making it one of the most utilized softwares globally. The Microsoft Software License Terms defines the legal conditions under which you (the end user) can use the software.
Types of Software Licensing Agreements
There are different types of Software licenses but the distinguishing factor of the license is the term under which endusers may utilize, redistribute, copy or further develop the software
Typically, Software licensing agreements can be grouped into 3 categories; Proprietary, free and open source. Some of these licenses provide that a particular software may be used freely without restriction while others may sell the copyrighted softwares for a fee.
Despite the many types of SLA available, it’s Important that a good Software Licensing Agreement contains the limitations of liabilities, warranties and disclaimers and protections and the fair use of the software.
B. Non disclosure agreements (NDA)
Another contractual measure that may be adopted by a software developer is signing a NDA when dealing with third parties or sharing software source codes with an external party. Essentially, the non-disclosure agreement is a preventive measure to ensure that the public, competitors or other third parties do not have access to your software without your permission.
Intellectual Property Protection:
There are various ways by which Generally, software can be protected under IP by patents, trademarks, Copyright and trade secrets.
In Nigeria, software codes are protected by the Copyright law. According to section 51 of the Copyright Act, C28 LFN, 2004, computer programs which includes the software codes are registrable under the Copyright Act.
In most jurisdictions outside Nigeria, software programs can also be registered under copyright. Specifically, in Nigeria, you can register your source codes or softwares with the NCC by submitting a completed registration form via The Nigerian Copyright e- Registration System (NCeRS)
It’s important to note that registration is not a mandatory precondition for protection under copyright law so you don’t have to register before you can you can claim ownership of the software.
Patent generally rewards innovation and in this instance, patent protects the software invention including the methods and processes.
By virtue of the Patent and Design Act, P2 LFN, 2004, Software is eligible for patent protection, provided it is new, involves an inventive step that is not obvious to people knowledgeable in the field and is capable of industrial application.
Softwares can’t be trademarked because trademarks are distinctive marks used to identify the source of the a particular product form the others in the course of trade.
However, the name, logo, or slogan used in selling or promoting software products or services is registrable under Trademarks.
Although, it does not Trade mark the software, it protects the brand name and logo under which the software products are sold.
And lastly we have..
D. Trade Secrets:
Trade secret protection is not a statutorily recognized right in Nigeria but it is recognized and enforceable under common law. Essentially, trade secrets protect technical know-how’s, including other confidential information that gives the owner a competitive advantage in the market. Trade secrets provides a software developer with the exclusive right to use source codes and software, and prevent unlawful imitation by third parties.
To conclude, if you are a software developer or technology company providing software solutions, then you should consider the Intellectual Property & contractual measures provided in today’s podisde to protect your software.
Resources/ Further Reading: