is one of the leading experts on intellectual property, particularly as it relates to software. He is the president and founder of Zeidman Consulting, a premier contract research and development firm in Silicon Valley that focuses on engineering consulting to law firms about intellectual property disputes. Clients have included Apple Computer, Cisco Systems, Facebook, Intel, Symantec, Texas Instruments, and Zynga. Bob is also the president and founder of Software Analysis and Forensic Engineering Corporation, the leading provider of software intellectual property analysis tools for use in forensic examinations. Bob is considered a pioneer in the fields of analyzing and synthesizing software source code. He has worked on and testified in over 200 cases involving billions of dollars in disputed IP.
Copyright is one of the most important intellectual property rights for any individual in America. The power to grant protection of copyrights “by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” is given to Congress in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. As an author and computer programmer, I find that many of my colleagues misunderstand these rights and the protections that they afford. For this reason, I think it is important to clear up some misunderstandings in the recent IP Watchdog article, “A Question of Morals: The U.S. Approach to Plagiarism, ‘Moral Rights’, and Copyright Infringement” by Dave Davis.
Many articles are coming out about how the recent decision in Oracle America v. Google is going to destroy the ability to create and protect software in the United States. The latest doomsday prophet is Jie Lian in his IPWatchdog article entitled Oracle v. America: Fair or Unfair. As a longtime programmer and an expert in software copyright law, I can tell you that the Federal Circuit got it right, and the decision helps software developers and encourages software development because it leaves in place the copyright protections that have existed at least since the Software Copyright Act of 1980. I am sure that most of us can agree that software development has skyrocketed since 1980.
RPost has been unfairly described as a patent troll. In fact, RPost is a privately held cybersecurity technology company that has been in operation since 2000. For at least the past two years, RPost has been listed as representative of vendors in Gartner’s Market Guide for Electronic Signature… Microsoft promotes RPost on its partner website for offering “an Outlook add-in that puts advanced email capabilities in the hands of any Microsoft Outlook or Office 365 user.” Its RMail product was even favorably reviewed and recommended by the American Bar Association.
So what about the ZeniMax v. Facebook case? While you read many reports that make fantastical claims, it is important to remember that software copyright has been accepted and understood by the legal community as well as any law can be. Software copyrights have been formally codified since 1980, though copyrights on written works have been accepted since the founding of our nation. Nonliteral infringement is a long-standing and universally accepted result of copyright law and a legitimate reason for finding software copyright infringement. Was the verdict in this case correct? That is a different question entirely separate from whether software can be copyrighted and whether the legal theories were sound, but without facts to the contrary, it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that the jury made a correct decision.