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Douglas G. Verge
Phone: 603.627.8119
Fax: 603.641.2351
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I'd like to register the copyright in my computer program, but I don't want to disclose my trade secrets. Is there anything I can do?

Saturday, July 31, 2004
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Yes. The United States Copyright Office offers various alternatives with respect to submitting computer programs that contain trade secrets for registration. Where a computer program contains trade secret material, the applicant must include a cover letter stating that the claim contains trade secrets, along with the page containing the copyright notice, if any, plus one of the following:

  • the first 25 and last 25 pages of source code with portions containing trade secrets blocked out; or

  • the first 10 and last 10 pages of source code alone, with no blocked out portions; or

  • the first 25 and last 25 pages of object code, plus any 10 or more consecutive pages of source code, with no blocked out portions; or

  • for programs 50 pages or less in length, the entire source code with trade secret portions blocked out.

Registering one's copyright is inexpensive and advantageous. Moreover, registration is a prerequisite to a copyright infringement lawsuit, and is necessary to entitle one to the recovery of statutory damages and attorneys' fees.