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QLD How to Protect Algorithm Under Intellectual Property Law?

Discussion in 'Intellectual Property Law Forum' started by Peter6, 4 June 2015.

  1. Peter6

    Peter6 Well-Known Member

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    I have developed a new algorithm and then found a potential partner to commercialise it. We went though some verification stages. No issues have been found during the time. I exposed the critical idea of my modelling to them. I did not sign any non disclosure agreement (NDA) with the company. I recently found that a new product was released from that company which has quite similar to my algorithm.

    Any suggestion on what I can do about it? Any recourse under intellectual property law?
     
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    There are a few intellectual property rights that may protect an algorithm, however I'm doubtful that any will apply.

    Algorithms with specific industrial applications can be patented but such a patent must be registered (which assume you haven not done).

    Copyright, which does not require registration but arises automatically upon creation of an original work protects source code, executable code and data banks and tables. However this will only protect the actual sequence of characters "cut and pasted" from your work into something else. It would not cover simply the "idea" or an original algorithm inspired by your algorithm.

    I would highly recommend getting confidentiality, non-disclosure and non-circumvention agreements in place next time you speak with someone about a newly developed product.
     
  3. Peter6

    Peter6 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your help. Does that mean I can not do any thing about it? There is unique way to model the system and there is no other ones who have applied this new concept before. and this idea was applied in their new software. It can be easily to be identified if it is applied in their product.
    I already applied this concept in my own software.
     
  4. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Hi Peter6,

    as I said above - concepts and ideas are not covered by copyright which is an automatic right and the only other thing that might protect you is patent but you need to proactively have it assessed and registered prior to someone else using it.

    Therefore I do not know of any right of action that you could pursue against this company. You could always seek independent legal advice from a lawyer who is a specialist in the application of intellectual property to software and algorithms.
     
  5. Peter6

    Peter6 Well-Known Member

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    What kind of statement in confidentiality, non-disclosure agreement can protect concept and ideas?
     
  6. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    In a non-circumvention agreement the person you are telling about your new development (lets call them the receiver) agrees and acknowledges that you as the creator have invested considerable time and effort in creating the algorithm and in consideration for reviewing it they agree not to circumvent you with respect to any future commercial exploitation of the algorithm and that the only possibility for involvement in any commercial exploitation of the algorithm will be by agreement with you and otherwise foregoes any interest in it.

    A Non-Disclosure agreement on the other hand requires the receiver of information about your algorithm to hold that information in the strictest confidence and take all reasonable precautions to protect it, not disclose it, make any use of it, and/or to copy or reverse engineer it.
     
  7. Peter6

    Peter6 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advice. Do you think it is legal to rise the issue publicly. If by law I can not do anything, is it legal to rise the concern in that industry so people know what happened?
     
  8. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Be careful with what you say, as saying things to others which harms their reputation could potentially give rise to a defamation action. If you can prove what you are saying is true - that is usually a defence to a defamation action against you, however you never know, they might be able to pull up evidence to prove that their development was based on their own research and it was merely coincidence that you had showed them a similar concept in the meantime.

    I would raise it with them first and try to argue that there was an implied understanding that your discussions were confidential and that any exploitation of the concept you developed would be pursued jointly. See what they say - they may admit to stealing your idea or deny it. If they admit it I suppose there's no harm in telling others about it if that makes you feel better. But if they deny it, then you are limited as to how you can proceed.
     
  9. Peter6

    Peter6 Well-Known Member

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    I have invention in the algorithms and it is not a simple algorithm other people already know.and I just programmed it. I exposed it to the company. I also guess the company did some reverse engineering to find out my other new idea from the solutions I provided to them for verification. If they argue about that they developed the idea after I told them, do you think it is too late to say that. At least they did not have that idea when I exposed my one to them and they were keen to verify my algorithms. Do you think this can be the base to argue that They steal me ideas?
     
  10. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Could be, its difficult to say. But as I said, there is no laws that prevent someone stealing "ideas" or "concepts" from someone else unless they have previously agreed not to via either a non disclosure or non circumvention agreement.
     

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