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Software Development: Should You License Your Code?

When you’re working on software development projects for your clients, how do you handle intellectual property? This issue is particularly important if you plan to recycle code on future projects for other clients. After all, why should you have to reinvent the wheel for each new client?

Unfortunately, many software development agreements are silent with respect to intellectual property ownership.

This means both client and developer often end a project with both thinking they own rights to the code. But if it isn’t in the contract, do you really know?

And where there’s confusion about software rights, there’s often expensive lawsuits that could easily have been avoided.

Before taking on an app development project, be sure you know what you and the client will both own at the end of it.

An experienced software lawyer can craft an agreement that makes sense for both you and the client. In some cases, you’ll own the code but license it to the client under certain terms and conditions. In other instances, it may make more sense for the client to own the code to license back rights for you to recycle it on future projects with some limitations (e.g., no using the code for a competitor’s software app).

Of course, when dealing with intellectual property ownership when it comes to code, you have to take into account both open source code and public domain code that’s been used in the development. The software development contract can address these too so that neither you nor the client is confused as to who owns what rights.

Mike Young, Esq.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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