Legal Question in Business Law in California

Starting Consulting business: how to manage intellectual property?

Starting Consulting business: how to manage intellectual property?

I am planning to start up a small consulting business in the area of scientific algorithm development and data analysis. Basically, I'm going to develop algorithms and write the software to address client problems. This is a sole proprietorship.

I am happy to deliver the software source code and corresponding documentation to the customer, but I'm concerned that I will not be able to use similar methods, or even the same method, to address subsequent problems. I have no problem giving them the code and then letting them incorporate it into a larger proprietary software package, but I want to make sure that the ideas that I have originated and implemented are reusable by me in a subsequent situation. Note that I would not be using the same source code to help another client, just the ideas (which are a lot of math).

The standard contracts I have found don't seem to apply to this issue.

Thanks in advance.

Asked on 5/10/08, 10:34 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

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Re: Starting Consulting business: how to manage intellectual property?

Additionally, it sounds like it would be a good idea to have a unique licensing agreement with each client since it sounds like the work you will be doing is unique to their needs.

I have extensive experience developing and negotiated software agreements like this so let me know if I can help you in any way.

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5/11/08, 12:40 pm
Cathy Cowin Law Offices of Cathy Cowin
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Re: Starting Consulting business: how to manage intellectual property?

A software licensing agreement with your clients will address this problem. There are specific terms to clarify your intent. I have experience in this area and would be happy to meet with you to develop an agreement that meets your specific needs.

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5/10/08, 11:35 am
Michael Stone Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE
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Re: Starting Consulting business: how to manage intellectual property?

Aside from it being preferable to pay some attorney to write your licensing agreements, have you considered releasing your math algorithms as a closed-source function library API released as one or more .dll files? Have you considered releasing a MATLAB plug-in?

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5/11/08, 11:31 pm

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