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Software sales are declining for the largest players in the software industry. Bloomberg recently reported a decline in sales for these mega-giants for the first time in over three years. The report went on to explain how software license sales declined overall by about three percent in Europe, with the largest businesses suffering the largest losses.

This could mean opportunity for smaller software companies. Global software license sales are projected to average a growth rate of about four percent per year through 2016. Smaller, more versatile software companies can take advantage of this opportunity for growth.

One key to success in this market includes providing access to programs through the cloud. A lack of cloud availability may be a key disadvantage for larger companies.

Regardless of the availability for your product, once developed it is important to have a strong software license to help protect your product.

Software licensing basics

Software generally can be classified in one of four categories: commercial, shareware, freeware or public domain. Commercial software is available for a price and includes products like Microsoft packages. Shareware can be copied during a trial period. After this period ends, the product must be purchased or uninstalled. Freeware is available for use without a cost as long as it is not used for profit and public domain software receives no protections.

Essentially, a software license allows the owner of the program to control when and how the program can be installed and redistributed once it is purchased. Anyone who violates the terms of the license can be held accountable.

Protect your product

Once a software program is developed, certain steps can help ensure a product is protected. Before releasing the product, a business should take the following into consideration:

  • Is the product really new? Take some time to do some research and make sure that your product does not infringe on another product's preexisting copyrights.
  • Is the product fully protected? The software may need a software license as well as a patent.
  • How will you protect your rights? It may be wise to come up with a plan to police the license. This allows you to make sure no one else is illegally using the software.

Taking these steps can help reduce the risk of software piracy. Software piracy, or the unauthorized use of your program, can occur in a number of ways. This could include installing the software on more than one computer and making copies of the program.

Legal issues and software licensing

Legal issues around software licensing can be complex. There is not a simple set of directions on how to handle the legal disputes that can arise, since each situation is unique. As a result, those who find themselves facing software licensing and technology matters should contact an experienced technology and software licensing lawyer to help protect their legal rights.