This is the first of two From the Experts articles examining issues related to computer source code discovery.

The advancement of computer-related technologies and their introduction to the consumer market has accelerated dramatically in the past decade. Product life cycles, particularly for consumer electronics, have shortened as the pace of innovation increases. These factors have complicated intellectual property litigation, including those relating to patents, trade secrets, and copyrights, by expanding the scope of cases in which the preprogrammed computer instructions, or source code, are relevant to the proof or defense of a claim.

The increased focus on source code also leads to increased cost for asserting or defending claims. For example, reviewing the other side’s source code to determine how the subject software operates in the discovery phase can be expensive and time consuming. For case and budget management, source code-related costs and their control can be challenging.

But the good news is that the cost of source code discovery is controllable. In this article, we first provide a brief background about source code, and then suggest discovery strategies to make source-code discovery more cost-effective.

A Brief Introduction to Source Code

Source code is the programed instructions that specify how a software feature of a computing product is logically organized and processed. Each software feature—for example, pressing a button on a smartphone screen—has associated source code. It tells the computing product what to do. It may also contain, in the background, programmer comments that describe the function.

A computing device uses source code in a converted, machine-readable form. The conversion process translates the code from a programming language into a binary form known as object code. The resulting binary files run the program on a computing device.

Containing Discovery Costs

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