This describes a technique that can help you prove that you are the rightful owner of a piece of software or data, although it can easily be used to show your ownership of any idea or object.

  • Create a copy of your software/data on removable media. A write-once CD-ROM is preferable but floppy disk is also OK.
  • Write your name and the date on the media.
  • Place it in an envelope, seal it and sign your name over all of the seals of the envelope.
  • Mail the envelope to yourself, or your lawyer, by recorded delivery. This will place an official date-stamp on the software/data.
  • Keep the envelope in a secure location, for example, a safety deposit box.
In a dispute over ownership, if you can produce this and have it opened in front of witnesses, while the other party cannot, you have a strong argument for your ownership of the contents of the envelope.