Copyright as an IP Protection Strategy for Medical Device Software

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Andrew Rapacke is a registered patent attorney and serves as Managing Partner at The Rapacke Law Group, a full service intellectual property law firm.

Software is frequently employed in medical device technologies. Since software code is written, and producing new software for medical devices requires some creativity on the part of the programmer, software code is usually eligible for intellectual property legal protections. One of the most effective forms of IP protection for software code is copyright registration.

While a copyright is created in the software code the minute that it is saved to a hard drive or printed in hard copy, copyright registration take the copyright protection a step further, and makes your legal protections stronger. Copyright registration involves submitting a copy of the software code to the US Copyright Office, along with the payment of a fee. Registration affords a copyright to the protected software code, which means that others cannot copy the registered code without permission.

Copyright Protection Only Applies to the Specific Registered Version of Code

It is important to be aware that when it comes to registering for copyright protection on software code, only the registered version of software code is protected. Since code is often worked on continuously or updated regularly, a copyright can become outdated if too much of the code content is changed over time. As such, it is a good idea for medical device software developers to make a regular practice of registering new iterations of software code. A few good rules of thumb for medical device software companies include:

  • Registering the newest version of software code every quarter.
  • Registering the newest version of software code once twenty percent or more of the code has changed from the previously registered version.
  • Registering the newest version of the software code if a critical update must be issued.
  • Registering the software code version that will be sold in a new medical device product or as a new software as a service solution.

Copyright registration on its own can be a strong deterrent for potential copycats. The registration puts others on notice that you hold a copyright for the code and intend to enforce your rights against infringers.   

Protecting How Medical Information or Data Is Displayed

How information is displayed on a medical device may also be eligible for copyright protection. In medical tech, patient data or medical information often needs to be displayed in an easy to understand format. Patient monitoring information, medical device operation status, and patient vitals or stats are all examples of important medical information that healthcare professionals need to be able to see and easily understand in a hospital setting. The way that this type of information is displayed on a graphical user interface or display screen of a medical device can be a form of intellectual property itself that is eligible for copyright protection, as well as design patent protection.

Getting Legal Protection for Medical Device Software

When it comes to obtaining legal protection for valuable software IP assets in the medtech space, it is critical that you understand the legal options that are available to you. At The Rapacke Law Group, we can walk you through your IP assets and help you determine which forms of IP protection will help secure rights in your software. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Schedule a Free Strategy Call
  • Get help identifying what type of IP protection may the best fit for your situation.
  • We explain every step of the IP protection process
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