IP rights in software
IP rights in software

The following TMT practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • IP rights in software
  • IP rights in software formats
  • Copyright
  • Patents
  • Open and closed formats
  • Open formats and open source
  • Format-shifting
  • The format-shifting exception—quashed
  • Future developments

IP COMPLETION DAY: 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marks the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements come to an end and significant changes begin to take effect across the UK’s legal regime. This document contains guidance on subjects impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see Practice Note: What does IP completion day mean for TMT?

This Practice Note explains the extent to which software formats can be protected as intellectual property rights, and also briefly discusses the issues relevant to open source software formats.

In the IT context, the term ‘format’ may apply to data (data formats), files (file formats, ie the way in which data is saved in a file and consequently the ability to exchange data between computer programs), disks (disk formatting, ie formatting or initialisation of storage media) and pages of documents (page formatting, ie page layouts and text styles). This Practice Note focuses primarily on file formats in software.

A range of different interactions between formats and interfaces are possible. Interfaces may, in some cases, simply operate to require that data is written to or read from an existing computer program in a specific format; other interfaces may require a new (sometimes competing) software

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