Have We Any Rights over Our Software? INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Q: We recently commissioned a company to produce some software for us. We paid for the work to be done, so we thought we owned the rights in the software. We discovered that a competitor is being allowed to use the software to make products which compete with ours. Can we stop them? A: Perhaps, yes. Software is protected by copyright in the UK. Copyright is an automatic right, so it exists as soon as an original piece of work, for example a computer program, is created.
UK law does not include any provision for a commissioner to automatically own copyright in commissioned works.
Usually, the person creating the work, for example the software programmer, is the first owner of copyright in the work. However, if the work is created in the course of the creator's employment, the rights belong to his/her employer.
Check what your commissioning contract says about the ownership of copyright arising from the commission.
If the contract specifies that the copyright in the software would be assigned to you, then you could take action to prevent the software being licensed to others without your permission. …