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Copyright Protection
Protecting Software Innovations – Copyrights Or Patents?

Computer programs or software refer to the instructions executed by a computer. It takes a lot of time, skill, labor, and hard work to develop computer software, which is in the form of source codes and object codes. In today’s highly competitive business environment, software innovations have an enormous market value and hence can be copied and used by unauthorized people. Therefore, it is highly advisable to protect the software either under Copyright Law or Patent Law, which at times can be a tough decision to make.


Patents or copyrights are the legal forms of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), which can protect the owner’s software source code, invention, or idea. It often becomes necessary for every software developer or designer to choose between a patent and copyright. For making a choice, the developer has to think about what he is protecting. The question is, whether the developer is protecting the code or the idea and process of the software. Obtaining the registration of patents and copyrights are two very different processes and might also change what the owners want to do with their software.

Under the law, both copyrights and patents protect software from theft and infringement. However, each one protects a different part of the software. For instance, patents protect the idea while copyrights protect the written code. Additionally, copyrights don’t protect the idea behind the source or object code. To be specific, copyrights don’t protect ideas, processes, procedures, and systems, methods of operation, concepts, discoveries, or principles. Software patents, on the other hand, are utility patents (and not design patents), that protect a process, machine, an article of manufacture, a composition of matter, or improvement on an already existing utility.


Patents granted for software inventions prevent unauthorized users from utilizing a specific algorithm or creating new software programs (which perform the patent-protected functions), without any explicit permission. On the other hand, copyrights protect only the expression of the idea, i.e., the source code and not the functionality. Therefore, it won’t be wrong to say that patents offer a much broader range of protection.

Some of the significant contrasting features between these two forms of Intellectual Property Protection are listed below:

  1. Patents protect the functional aspect of a software invention, whereas copyrights protect only the idea and concept behind the software.
  2. Copyright Protection extends for the owner’s or author’s lifetime plus an additional period of 60 years, whereas patents last for 20 years.
  3. Software patents are difficult to get, whereas Copyright Registration takes only a few months.


Whether any software program or piece of code involves an inventive aspect or not, it must seek protection under Copyright Law. However, the dilemma to obtain Patent Protection arises when there is an invention in a software product or process. In such circumstances, the owner should explore the option of protecting the software invention with a patent as they offer much broader and stronger protection than copyrights.



Marvel Wins Copyright Lawsuit Over ‘Iron Man 3’ Poster

Marvel Entertainment has finally won a Copyright Infringement lawsuit after four years that alleged the company had copied the design of their movie poster for “Iron Man 3” from two comic book artists’ work.

Horizon Comics Production, owned by comic book artists and brothers Ben and Ray Lai, had sued Marvel in 2016 by claiming that the official poster of Iron Man 3 was way too similar to the appearance of a character named Caliban from their comic book series called Radix. In their lawsuit, Horizon claimed that six employees of Marvel were well aware of Radix and the design of Caliban. Additionally, the Copyright Infringement Lawsuit read that two of those employees had even worked with the comic artists and influenced the creators of the Iron Man 3 poster.

However, J. Paul Oetken, a US District Judge in New York, in his ruling asserted that the poster was designed based on inspiration boards made by Marvel’s creative team, images from the movies of Iron Man, and a photoshoot starring Robert Downey Jr. To this, Horizon argued by saying that the two works were strikingly identical, and even produced an expert report discussing the aspects of anatomical structures and camera views. But the judge sided with Marvel by pointing out the differences in the pose, placement of lights, and overall coloring.  At last, the judge stated that in contrast to Horizon’s no virtual evidence of copying in the records, Marvel was successful in introducing a piece of unrebutted evidence, which showed its independent creation of the Iron Man 3 poster.

YouTube Now Requires Timestamps in Copyright Claims

On YouTube, Copyright Claims are a necessary evil. Undoubtedly, they play a significant role in helping the copyright owners claim their content if another person uses it without giving them the proper credits. However, the manual claiming tool had been creating a lot of problems for both the large and small creators alike. Therefore, YouTube has now announced a few necessary changes to the way copyright claims are handled for making things easier for both the parties.

The first and foremost change involves the fact that the manual copyright claims will now require a timestamp to specify where the copyrighted content is used in a video. The video sharing website also stated that it would officially cancel a user’s access to such manual claims if they repeatedly fail in providing accurate timestamps. YouTube will scan the uploaded videos against a database of files through which their content ID technology will find all the visual and audio matches. Any possible instances of Copyright Infringement found during that process will lead to automated generation of content ID claims or manual claims where the copyright owners themselves report a violation of their Intellectual Property.

The recipient of the manual claim will be able to see the timestamp specified by the reporting party. It will make it much easier for the recipient to figure out the part of the video to edit. If they decide to alter the video rather than disputing the claim, they can use the video editing tools in YouTube’s Creator Studio section to remove the content associated with such claims. Creators can also mute the sounds in the time-stamped section or switch the music with the free songs in the Auto Library. Moreover, they can also trim the entire segment, if required.

YouTube stated that it would continue to make its editing tools more effective by eventually giving the creators a way to trim the claimed segments with a single click. YouTube’s Product Manager, Julian Bill, wrote that their work would not stop here as they would find even better ways to improve the copyright experience of creators while balancing the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of the copyright owners.