Sunday, September 25, 2011

Copyright Protection for Software: More Money

I've mentioned before that you should be seriously considering copyright protection for your software either in addition to patent protection, or as an alternative if you don't already have patent protection. Again, you get copyright protection automatically, without the exorbitant expense and delay associated with patent protection. Also, there is the possibility for greater money damages in a copyright suit.
Orace estimates $950 Million in copyright damages
Case in point: Oracle has sued Google for patent and copyright infringement. Basically, Oracle says that Google infringed the copyrights and patents owned by Oracle on the JAVA technology. Actually, Oracle owns those rights because they purchased Sun Microsystems a couple of years ago.
In that suit, Oracle recently submitted its damages estimate. Oracle claims that Google owes roughly $200 million in patent damages, but about $950 million in damages for the copyright infringement. Couple that with the lower standard for recovering attorneys fees in the copyright case versus the patent case, and Oracle stands to gain a substantially greater recovery for its copyright claim than its patent claim. Again, copyright law is proving to be the legal mechanism of choice for protecting software. So if you are considering legal action to protect your software, you should definitely be evaluating whether you have a copyright claim as well. If not, you could be leaving the lion's share of your recovery on the table.