A representative of Outfarm is attending the Web Summit in Dublin which takes place in Trinity College. We are there to spread the word about Outfarm and talk to companies that are facing the problem our service is addressing.
We are very excited about the fact that our service is close to “official” Beta launch (expected in February) and we are welcoming Trial customers to use the service free of charge for a limited period.
Looking forward to meeting you there.
Whenever there is a discussion about outsourcing any type of software development work, someone will always play the intellectual property card. How can you protect it, is always the question. Software is intangible and the IP is really in how a business process is implemented within the software. Business processes are very hard to patent or to protect otherwise legally. Also the majority of software implements operational processes that are not that different between companies. This post obviously does not cover speciality software that implements other types of processes that might very well be patentable.
Many companies are afraid that if they use a software development service provider, those guys will then either use the software they developed and claim it is their own or use the know-how they acquired when developing software for the next customer. The first is quite unlikely, because most of the service providers are quite happily just that and have neither the knowledge, motivation nor the resources to take the software and sell it as their own or use it to build the next big Internet service. The second is certainly true, the question is to what extent. It is highly unlikely that the next customer will ask for exactly the same piece of software. Sure some parts will be reused, but because developing software is a rather complicated process, most of the time it will be completely rewritten to fit the new application. Reality is that IP theft for software is really hard to prove (not copyright infringement which is easier to prove) and would need a lot of money to actually prove in a court. We used a simple Non-Disclosure Agreement to protect ourselves against the most obvious forms of IP theft and that was it. The biggest threat to a company’s IP is its employees because the can walk away with the software and the market knowledge that lacks most software development service providers.
When it comes to software, then copyright infringement is probably the bigger issue as most large software companies will let you know. There is also an issue with who gets the copyright in different countries. Some countries award the copyright to the contractor and not the company that hired the contractor. So it makes sense to look up the copyright law and make sure the contractor signs a legally binding document stating that he/she does not claim the copyright now and in the future for the software developed.
There is also a very interesting article in The Economist covering some of this topic: http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/displayStory.cfm?story_id=15479680