Using tools for new, amazing purposes is just another part of innovation. It wouldn't make much sense for a construction company to be sued by a hammer company for not paying a license fee, but in the tech industry, there are a lot of tools and techniques that are a bit more complicated than making and selling a hammer. If you're a company that uses software from other vendors, or a software vendor who employs third-party contract programmers, here are a few issues to keep in mind, as you purchase software tools and move forward with your own sale.
Code Modules and Reuse
When dealing with full software packages from organized businesses, it's a bit easier to understand what you're allowed to do. The software comes with a license and an agreement that details what you can and can't do with the specific software.
What if you need that software to make your product work? If you're selling a device that works perfectly with a specific set of code, you have the option of either buying permission to include the software within your own product or creating your own software.
From here, you can either commission a programmer to write a completely different program that does the same task, reinventing the wheel, in some cases, or buy the program from the original developer. Buying the rights to the program, to do whatever you want with it, would be the best scenario, but any developer with business sense will sell licenses or a limited lease of the software, to increase their gains.
If you choose to hire a programmer for a new program, you need to make sure that your new product doesn't violate any copyright laws. This can be tricky, since programs are lines of code that represent a bigger, patent-able product. Are the individual lines protected by law? Are there times when there's really no better way to write a specific line of code? It all comes down to the letter of a law.
Business Transaction Contracts And Verification
No matter your choice, make sure that a business transaction lawyer is on your side. Even without deep technical knowledge, any of your choices can be protected against fraud, patent violation, or plagiarism of any type.
When purchasing software from another company to use with your own product, you need a contract that spells out what you're allowed to do. Intent needs to be stated clearly in the contract to protect you from having to pay more royalties than expected, or any royalties at all, for a product that you've sold to hundreds, thousands, or millions of customers.
When working with programmers, you will need protection against their misconduct or accidental plagiarism. If a company detects that your product's code is stolen, it's your responsibility to remedy the situation. A contract can give you the power to hold the involved programmers responsible, and demand a fix, without necessarily paying more for a rewrite.
Contact a business transaction legal services professional to discuss other protection points for your tech code purchases.
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