Copyright is an indispensable form of intellectual property protection for the software industry. At the same time, software copyright is a complex and continuously evolving area of the law. A common misconception is that copyright only protects source code — in fact, copyright also protects software designs, user interface elements, and object code. At the same time, ideas, facts, functions, and processes are generally not protected by copyright. Determining what aspects of a software program are eligible for copyright protection is a complex task, and determining whether copyright infringement has taken place is even more complex.

What We Do

Quandary Peak experts can:

  • Document control structure, data structure, data flow, information architecture, and textual organization of the code.
  • Reduce the cost and complexity of applying the abstraction-filtration-comparison (AFC) test by refining and focusing the task.
  • Identify unprotectable ideas, functions, facts, and processes that are not eligible for copyright protection.
  • Prepare well-focused exhibits describing the relevant portions of code at multiple levels of abstraction.
  • Offer technical grounds both in defense of AFC choices and to challenge AFC choices made by the opposing party.
  • Explain when copying for the purpose of legitimate reverse engineering is a fair use.
  • Analyze the four factors to be considered in determining fair use.

What We Know
  • Software structure, sequence, and organization (SSO)
  • Computer Associates International v. Altai
  • Substantial similarity of non-literal elements of a program
  • The difference between expression and idea in source code
  • The abstraction, filtration, comparison (AFC) test
  • Whelan Associates v. Jaslow Dental Laboratory
  • Derivative works and compilations
  • Lotus Development v. Borland International
  • How copyright protects both source code and object code
  • Gates Rubber v. Bando Chemical
  • Methods of operation

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