Here’s a plain-spoken rundown on intellectual property rights issues that you may face as you work with a service provider to develop applications, databases, Web sites and the like.
Although attorney Tim Cook writes from a UK perspective, much of his coverage will be pertinent to your general thinking about the topic.
Here’s an interesting case study from the article:
In a recent case, Cyprotex (a systems developer) and Sheffield University got into an expensive legal dispute over who owned the Intellectual Property Rights in an IT system designed to predict how new drugs would behave in the human body. Despite the fact that both parties intended to exploit the system, the development contract did not clearly say who owned the Intellectual Property Rights. A dispute arose and the project broke down. Sheffield University argued that it owned the Intellectual Property Rights in the part developed system, as it was the customer and had paid for it, and Cyprotex claimed that it owned the Intellectual Property Rights as it had developed it. The court favoured Sheffield University, as Cyprotex was an "agent of the University", and gave Cyprotex no ownership rights in the system it had developed.