You can take action if your protected software is used by a third party without your permission. What action you can take depends on the system of protection you chose:
- For more information about what actions you can take if someone infringes your software protected by copyright: see the smart guide on copyright.
- For more information about what actions you can take if someone infringes your software protected by trade secrets: see the smart guide on trade secrets.
- For more information about what actions you can take if someone infringes your software protected by patents: see the smart guide on patents.
There are different ways to check if the software you want to use is protected:
- In order to check if computer software protected by copyright is already on the market, you must monitor your business environment and competitors. Very often a copyright sign “©” will be added to inform the public that copyright protection is claimed. If the software is already protected by copyright, you cannot use it without the authorisation of the author. If you develop your own original software to obtain the same result, this newly created software can be used and can get its own copyright protection.
- Trade secrets are not publicly available and so cannot be checked. This means that when you write similar software, without any knowledge of this trade secret, this software is not infringing the trade secret and cannot be stopped by the owner of the trade secret.
- A patent protection check can be done on available (free) patent databases such as https://worldwide.espacenet.com. You can contact your national patent office for more information and help with your research. If the software already exists, and is protected by a patent, you cannot use this software without the permission of the owner of the patent.
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