The experience of the last three years shows how the attitude of companies to internal developments has changed. Even a simple software created “on the knee” is perceived as a kind of entity that has its own value. In some companies, the value of internal developments has also increased under the influence of the import substitution policy: for them, software written by their own team of programmers is an alternative to foreign products, often already quite close to them in functionality. Anyway, organizations tend to formalize internal developments – we see this by the number of relevant requests to our department.
Five steps to formalize internal developments
By formalization, we mean first of all the proper documentation of the created result of intellectual activity. It should be clearly understood that, in accordance with the current legislation, copyright for a computer program arises from the moment of its creation by virtue of the very fact of its creation. It is fair that if an employee working in an organization under an employment contract develops a software product for the company, then this software product should belong to the company, since this relates to his duties, and it is for this that he receives wages and other types of compensation (bonuses and other compensatory payments). However, it is extremely important to understand that copyright distinguishes two things — copyright (intangible) and the so-called exclusive right (material right, the right to dispose of the object of copyright). And if copyright arises by virtue of creation and belongs to the individuals who created the product, then the “material” right is subject to fine-tuning documentation. The mechanism for protecting internal developments is included in five steps.
Step one. Within the framework of the employment contract, formalize the functions of employees and emphasize that the duties of the employee include the development of office works, computer programs, databases, etc. Also check the employment contract that has already been signed by the parties – it may be a standard document in which the points on the development of service works may not be specified. In this case, conclude an additional agreement with the developer, in which you should focus on the functional tasks of the specialist, as well as prescribe the ownership of the resulting exclusive rights of the company to the employer. Also, the contract must specify the procedure for paying royalties for computer programs created. The author’s remuneration may be included in wages, bonuses, or other types of material incentives.
Step two. Always make a service assignment for the development of a computer program. Strictly speaking, any development should begin with it. The service assignment is prepared in a free form. It contains the goals of a specific project, the development of which is planned to begin, as well as a brief description of the functionality or tasks that the application being created will solve. It is absolutely ideal if the service tasks will be prepared for specific modules of the solution being developed and contain a complete and clear technical specification for each module. If there is no such document, it is recommended to develop it for current projects, or to make a new one for the development of a previously developed product, in which the ownership of the exclusive rights of the company should be additionally prescribed. We simplify life for our customers and offer them ready-made templates, but you can also write in a free form.
It’s not a big deal if you didn’t create a service assignment at the previous stages of development. Your product is probably being finalized, and it makes sense to start practicing tasks while developing the product. In this case, formulate the task so that it is clear from the context: it is the existing solution that is being finalized, work on which was carried out earlier. If the service tasks were formulated in one way or another, it would be useful to audit them – either independently or with the help of an engaged consultant. This will allow you to understand if everything is in order with the documents, if not, then put them in order. You need to understand that your own software, which does not have documents, will be perceived by the inspection authorities as pirated. And these are unnecessary risks that any company does not need.
Step three. Make sure that the developer (if he is alone) or the team leader (if you have a development department) prepare a memo to you about the performance of the official task. It contains information about the functionality of the developed module, or about the functionality of the product as a whole. There should also be a thesis in the appeal that the software product is ready for operation. In fact, the memo documents the fact of the performance of the official task and is an analogue of the act of acceptance and transfer.
Step four. On the basis of a memo, a specially appointed commission analyzes the possibility of accepting a software product for test or commercial operation, after which, on the basis of the acceptance certificate, an order is formed for the organization to transfer this software into commercial operation.