Software Patents and Intellectual Property

In my pre-Newayva days I practiced law in western Michigan.  I did mostly family, criminal and bankruptcy law.  I never worked on patents or even with anyone who did.  Patent law is an entirely separate area of law and my knowledge in this area is limited to that of an informed consumer of legal services.  I only mention this because I want to be extra clear I am not a Patent Attorney and I definitely can’t give you legal advice on the process of securing a patent or about protecting your intellectual property in general.  The goal of this post is instead to briefly discuss my thoughts on the importance of protecting your intellectual property and how it relates to where we are as a company.

The patent process is complex and if you find yourself in a situation where you are thinking you might need to secure a patent I would definitely recommend that you find yourself a competent patent attorney.  We used Leonard Patel and are very happy with their work.

We at Newayva have big goals.  We have and are introducing game changing technology.  Our software is completely unique and represents significant improvements over what is currently available.  Later Ill post my thoughts on the economic advantages that we see coming from our products and service but for now I think it is sufficient to say that our tech will and does save huge amounts of time and the associated costs of application development.  See for example our Service Area Architecture Pattern (which streamlines and organizes development and is a dramatic improvement over SOLID and TDD).

Our Codenertia Framework will cut costs and development time even further by allowing a developer to train the computer to code in his or her unique style.  This tech is extremely valuable and we are preparing to roll out a MVP very soon.  We are able to take projects from thousands of hours in to the hundreds of hours and at times even down to the tens of hours.  Initially our software will allow us to be your go to outsource connection.  We will be able to replace your offshore developers at a fraction of the cost and produce faster and better results.  Ultimately we will roll out a developer edition of our software that will allow you or your developers to architect solutions in a small fraction of the time it currently takes.

Put simply, our tech is valuable and we need to protect it.  There are a number of ways to go about protecting software.

The simplest and easiest way to protect your tech is via a trade secret, that is just don’t tell anyone how its done.  At times this can actually be a fairly effective strategy.  In our case we could probably just consult and develop projects on our own and by keeping the process and code close to home we could probably keep our tech secure.  It would mean getting good and enforceable non competes from our employees and not sharing our unique perspective with the world in general.  But for Newayva this strategy is far too limiting.  We want to be able to share our product and to grow with the industry.  As crazy as it may seem now, we believe that pretty much every developer should adopt our tech eventually and that would definitely not occur if we didn’t share it with the world.

The next option that occurred to us is that of Copyright.  When some writes a program (or a book or whatever) copyright pretty much immediately attaches.  Simply put we don’t have to do anything at all to stop you from copying our code.  The rules are fairly clear, since we wrote it; its ours.  For many companies this type of protection might be enough.  Copyright protects specific implementations of code but it is not as powerful as a patent. Copyright doesn’t protect innovation in general, but rather just the actual work product itself.  If developer writes an algorithm that searches a data base for keywords copyright theoretically prevents other developers from copying the code and using the search as their own but it doesn’t prevent developers from writing their own algorithms to perform keyword searches of a database.

By contrast a patent grants an exclusive monopoly to patent holder.  In our example, if one were able to get a patent on keyword searching a database then no one would be allowed to write their own keyword search algorithms without infringing on our patent.  I doubt that such a patent could be awarded in the current environment.  The statutory standard allows that anyone who “…invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent…”  My understanding is that to satisfy this you must have invented something that has not been previously described.  This is actually a pretty hard standard to meet and the applications are very complex.  Our application was over 125 pages in length and included over 50 charts and diagrams.  You can see example patents on Google’s patent search if you want to see what a patent looks like.  Filing for a patent can be very expensive and as I said previously I firmly believe it requires a good patent attorney.  Ultimately we elected to pursue a patent because our tech is novel and we wanted to protect certain elements of it which can be used in a variety of applications.

If you are considering filing for a patent I would start by contacting a patent attorney to see if what you invented is patent-able.

One final note, in addition to patents and the like you might also consider trademarks to protect your artwork, logos, names etc.  We are currently patent pending and have filed applications for trademarks for both Codenertia and Newayva.

Hope this helps and don’t forget this is definitely not legal advice.  I am not a licensed patent attorney. If you need a patent attorney I recommend Leonard Patel we have found them to be very helpful.  If you do hire them let them know I sent you they might even cut you a break, cant hurt to ask.