I just finished reading The Software IP Detective’s Handbook by Bob Zeidman, and it’s certainly given me food for thought. For example, I had heard about the concept of “Digital Forensics,” which encompasses the recovery and investigation of material found in digital devices; for example, studying the bits and bytes on a hard disk. However, I was not familiar with the term “Software Forensics,” in which program code (source or compiled) is used to discover information about the history and usage of that software.
The reason this is so important is that intellectual property (IP) is one of the engines for growth in our increasingly high-tech world. I’m a hardware design engineer by trade, and we tend to think of IP in the form of blocks of logic that perform certain functions. It is very common for hardware design teams to purchase such IP blocks from third-party vendors and to use these functions as “building blocks” to form new designs. Of course software is also a form of IP, and as such it is a valuable commodity that its creators wish to protect at all costs. But how can you tell if someone else has used a portion of your software IP as part of their software product?
This book is of interest to anyone who wants to know more about the creation, use, and misuse of software intellectual property, including computer scientists and programmers, corporate managers, lawyers and judges, technical consultants and expert witnesses, and software entrepreneurs.
One great thing about the book is that it doesn’t assume prior knowledge. You can leap directly into the more technical topics if you wish, but if you are a non-expert with regard to computers (for example) you will discover a lot of very useful introductory material, including different types of programming languages; the difference between source and object code; the difference between compilers, interpreters, and synthesizers; and so forth.
For myself, although I am familiar with concepts like copyright, patents, and trade secrets at an abstract level, I very much appreciated the more detailed descriptions and historical context provided by the book.
Of particular interest to many people is the fact that the author is also the creator of CodeSuite, which is a suite of patented tools for comparing computer source code and executable code to detect plagiarism, pinpoint copyright infringement, highlight trade secret theft, and measure intellectual property. It can also be used to track software development changes through numerous revisions (the book thoughtfully notes that you can visit www.safe-corp.biz to download a free trial version).
As it says on the back cover, this book will help you to:
- Understand the key concepts that underlie software IP analysis
- Compare and correlate source code for signs of theft or infringement
- Uncover signs of copying in object code when source code is inaccessible
- Track malware and third-party code in applications
- Use software clean rooms to avoid IP infringement
- Understand IP issues associated with open source and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
Something else that caught my eye recently was the announcement that the author's company, Zeidman Consulting
, and Fonly LLC
(I only just realized that "Fonly" stands for "If Only...") have agreed to work together on intellectual property cases. Fonly and Zeidman will specialize in electronic hardware analysis and reverse engineering to detect patent infringement, trade secret theft, and copyright infringement.
The reason this is of interest is that Fonly LLC is headed by Lee Felsenstein
, a pioneer in the design of early personal computers. Lee (who was kind enough to write the forward for one of my own books a few years ago) designed the first complete personal computer incorporating video display, the Processor Technology SOL-20
, and the first commercially successful portable computer, the Osborne-1
, both of which are in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History
Between the two of them, Bob and Lee will make a formidable team when it comes to detecting both hardware and software IP infringement and theft...
...but we digress … I’m about to wander off into the weeds if I’m not careful. The bottom line is that The Software IP Detective’s Handbook
is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to know more about the creation, use, and misuse of software intellectual property, and I count it as a valuable addition to my personal library.
If you are looking for a good book to read, then may I be so bold as to point you in the direction of some of my other reviews as follows:
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