Software developers these days often face a frustrating dilemma. Online piracy is so common and so easy that many people no longer see the point registering patents or copyrights. Enforcement just seems too cumbersome.

While this attitude is certainly understandable, it is nonetheless misguided. If you are a software developer, it’s now more important than ever before to protect your intellectual property through registration.

First, it should be noted that creators of computer software can sometimes obtain patents, copyrights or both. While patenting seems like a natural course of action, not every piece of software will be eligible. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has become much more discriminating in terms of what kinds of software can be patented. This is in response to the proliferation of patent trolling, wherein people would patent abstract ideas or commonplace methods of doing business in order to file infringement suits later on.

What this means for the rest of us is that patent protection is not always available. As such, it may be a good idea to also seek copyright protection for your work.

Perhaps the best reason to apply for patents and copyrights is that these protections make the litigation process easier, and can make it more lucrative. If you haven’t copyrighted your software, for instance, you can still sue someone for infringement. But you will need to prove actual damages, and your recovery will be limited to what you can prove. If you have registered your software prior to infringement, however, you do not need to prove actual damages, and may be eligible for larger financial recovery.

Because applying for registration is cheap and relatively easy, there are few (if any) good arguments against registering for patent and copyright protection. If you have questions or would like to get started, please seek the help of an experienced attorney.