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Software law

What is „software law“?

National and international “software law” comprises various legal issues concerning classification, design and implementation. “Software law” comprises agreements on

software development,

  • software licensing, and
  • software maintenance.

Software-related agreements are principally often “attributed” to traditional areas of law such as contractual law, licensing law  or leasing law. The courts hold this view as well. This basic classification has continuously been adjusted in detail by the Supreme Court to fit the peculiarities of the software industry, a process which has not yet been completed.

Apart from purely contractual components, the German copyright law (based on EU directives) also plays a substantial role, especially such key words and key concepts as labour conditions for software engineers, decompiling, databanks, etc. Moreover, since software is easily developed and distributed, accompanying protective measures have to be considered, which are usually related to patent and trademark law. Therefore, although software as such is not eligible for patent protection (this is so in Germany and in Europe, but not in the USA), other protective rights can be examined and granted by respective offices.

How to obtain software protection?

Since intellectual property rights for software are covered by the copyright law, the general principles applying to intellectual property rights are similar to copyright law (compare).

Can generally available standardised licensing agreements also be applied for individual software?

The answer to this question is clearly „no“. However, this question is asked very often, as the opportunity to take advantage of generally available agreements is obviously tempting. We must, however, advise you against such behaviour. Of course, sample agreements for individual software can be found in special literature for lawyers. Nonetheless, especially in this area of law, the effects of an individual wording of contractual provisions are longer-lasting than in the case of standard software.

What do we need to handle your question concerning software law?

Since we know from experience that there is a number of legal questions that cannot be handled in general due to their diversity, we need your individual legal question in the first place (for instance, what agreements are appropriate for a given software product). Then we can inform you in detail what further information we need. Please contact us.

© 1998-2018 IP Attorney at law Michael Horak, LL.M, Certified IP Law Specialist

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