• Paul Armstrong

Is all software valuable IP?

In the knowledge economy, intellectual property, or IP, is essential. IP turns otherwise intangible ideas into assets. IP has value. And as the success of your business grows so too does the value of your IP.

Software is a good example of what qualifies as IP and is eligible for protection through copyright and, under the right circumstances, a patent. 

So do you need to own all the software you use for you to create IP and business value?  

No. And you don’t want to either.

Across all uses of software, 96% of all code contains open-source code. Open-source is software available for re-use, generally free, and with reasonable restrictions (Usually, just requiring a credit to the original author.) 

From semiconductors, business applications, health sciences, education and more — almost all (96%) report using open source in their own software.

Beyond using open source, most languages (C#, Java, etc.) and software platforms have comprehensive libraries and reusable software assets. This means your software spends most of its execution time is someone else’s code. (Microsoft’s, Oracle’s, etc.).

This should not get you down. By using someone else’s platform, you are benefiting from many more people and tests that have gone before you. More people and tests than you could otherwise, usually, justify are applied to create high quality, reusable software assets.

This is why 20 years ago software was so much more expensive to build. And now it’s not. Now we have 7020 software products just for sales and marketing (see image below of each of their logos). Twenty years ago there was probably none. Indeed eight years ago there were only 150 such products.

And if you or your IT team have a “not invented here” mentality, causing you to build most everything yourself, then you are missing out. Not just in the opportunity to re-use high-quality software assets, but you are missing the opportunity to invest your precious time and resources in creating proper unique and valuable IP.

Unlike copyright law, patent law protects the invention itself. What this means is, someone can’t create a software program with different code that does the exact same thing your software does. 

What this means is, you are never going to get valuable IP protection over software that repeats what someone else is doing. And while you might never go looking for a patent, the principle behind applying for one is a useful test of what defines value. (If someone has been there before it is not going to be very valuable doing it again.) 

So value creation through software is not defined by doing what you can buy or otherwise re-use off the shelf. 

What you need to do instead is, focus your value creation activities into the small and high valuable differences you can make in your industry. 

By building on someone else software platform, you can do this faster. Test its value more quickly and create genuine and valuable IP faster. 

If you want to learn how you can create business value even faster without code, at all, then contact us here at TipoTapp.

[Image credit to Scott Brinker, see https://chiefmartec.com/2019/04/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2019/]