Image source: Elements Envato
Computer software, or simply software, are chunks of data, programs, or instructions used in operating computers and executing specific tasks. Software is the complete opposite of hardware, as hardware is a physical entity of a computer. Meanwhile, software refers to programs and applications that run in hardware such as computers, laptops, mobile devices, and a lot more.
Softwares highly depend on intellectual property rights for protection and safekeeping. If anything, intellectual property rights are the sole foundation of the entire software industry. The term intellectual property or IP refers to any intangible work or creation produced by human intellect. Meanwhile, intellectual property rights are rights or protection granted on an intangible asset and its creators, such as a software program and the programmer. Today, many businesses consider intellectual properties as a significant asset in pursuing company goals. Though intangible, software is one of the most crucial assets in a business as this can guarantee greater success and higher profit more than any tangible asset can, which is why it’s important to protect your company’s software at all costs.
Essentially, there are three major types of intellectual property rights granted on software, namely:
Each of these three guarantees different types of legal protection. Patents and copyrights are generally used to protect the software or technology itself. Meanwhile, trademarks do not necessarily protect software, but it helps distinguish the software’s brand, name, or symbols in the marketplace. While all three are fundamentally important in protecting software, this article will focus more on trademarks and how it can possibly protect your software.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a type of intellectual property right usually given to a word, a group of words, a symbol, or a logo. This encompasses a wide range of intellectual properties such as your brand name, your tagline, your symbol or logo, etc.
The tiny ™ symbol at the end of each supposed trademark actually means that a particular brand, logo, symbol, or tagline is already a claimed trademark. Meanwhile, the ® signifies that your claimed trademark has been registered as authentic and that no one else can claim such trademark unless stated or proven otherwise. Trademarks are important as they can help your customers distinguish your brand from the rest of those in the market, which is why you better apply for Philippine trademark registration as early as possible.
Trademark Protection for Software
As mentioned, trademarks can only do so much in “protecting” a company’s software. But, let’s not underestimate the power of a registered, legitimate trademark as this can still bring wonders and benefits to your most valuable assets, such as software.
So, here’s the thing: you cannot trademark your software. But, you can trademark the logo, brand, or symbol that you use in selling or promoting your software. Take ADOBE as an example. The registered trademark ADOBE is used for a variety of products and services ranging from AfterEffects, Photoshop, Lightroom, and a lot more. Anything that can identify you as the creator of a specific product or service is illegible for trademark registration. By doing this, you’re preventing other companies and organizations from using or applying the exact same name, branding, or logo into a similar type of product or service. However, this protection only covers products and services within a related industry or market as there’s a possibility that other products and services in a different sector or industry claim to have the same name, branding, or logo.
Trademark Registration Process
The entire process isn’t really much of a sweat. However, you have to have enough (or more) patients since it may take quite a while.
Before filing for a software trademark, make sure you’ve researched your software, its branding or logo, and all other factors that need to be considered, such as other companies or industries. Sometimes, companies tend to neglect thorough research, and, in the process of it all, they find out that some other company has the exact same claimed [software] trademark. In the end, it’s all going to fill up your plate, which will only cause you the further hassle and possible disputes. So, before anything else, make sure to research thoroughly about your claimed trademark.
After thorough research, once you’ve proven or found out that you’re the only one who claims such a brand or software, you may now file for trademark rights and protection. This stage usually takes weeks since authorities still need to process all documents and do consistent background checks before verifying your software or brand as legitimate. During this process, might we suggest that you still try to keep your software protected as there are still high chances of other individuals or organizations stealing it and making a profit out of your intellectual property?
After a few months, you should be notified when your trademark right or protection is ready. Usually, authorities have a certificate of registration delivered to you, which proves that specific intellectual property (or in this case, your software) is legally yours to keep and utilize. Any other individual or business that claims to own such trademark shall be subjected to sanctions unless proven otherwise.
Software assets can significantly influence a business or possibly, a country’s economic value, but it all depends on one’s understanding of all intellectual property rights involved. With that, companies today are highly encouraged to register their most valuable assets, which are intellectual properties, not only to gain profit out of it but also to protect their hard work and creativity. After all, why not give credit where credit is due, right?