Ownership of Computer Code

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Posted by mp on April 02, 1998 at 08:43:28:

8 years ago I entered into an agreement with a friend that I would help market and improve his 4 year old computer software. I learned to code in the language and slowly began modifying the program and writing new programs to make the software better and fix bugs. The software sold well but had many areas that needed to be improved. Both my original friend and I at first shared in programming and I did all of the business management of the programs and the customers. He did not want to enter into a partnership so I started my business as a Sole Prop. Since our inception 8 years ago I have hired another programmer to create new and modify some old programs and have lost the support of my original partner. He does not want to support any of our customers and wants to go on to other things, however he feels that since he 12 years ago wrote the Base Code, some of which is still in our program, he is the sole owner of the software and my company even though we have written more than 50% of the existing programs and have modified ALL of the original Base code to work properly and be uniform in look. The software is named after my company and I have been the only one who sold the product and handled all business aspects since our beginnings 8 years ago. It is not my intention to cut out my original partner from the business however there still exists this uneasy feeling as to who owns the code, my company or him or both of us, and who owns the customers, most of whom do not know who my original partner is. Can multiple persons share in ownership of software? and if so, what about the base code that was drastically modified to work as it does today? I appreciate your help!!!

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