Assuming I have a plugin hosted on wordpress.org, can someone else just take my plugin and copyright it?

Can they take the name of my plugin and copyright or trademark it (assuming I do not have it copyrighted or trademarked)?

Can they take my code, extensively add to it and build off it creating a new plugin but using my code as a base without my permission?

What if they copyrighted it before I got a chance to?

What if they file for a provisional patent on my work? Can they do that?

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    possible duplicate of What is the “default” software license? – gnat Apr 23 '15 at 22:39
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    The answer depends on the jurisdiction, but in the U.S. you have a "default" copyright on anything you create even if you do not file for copyright. Trademark you have to file for, but if that becomes a question you are operating a business and should have a lawyer on retainer anyway. – user22815 Apr 23 '15 at 22:42
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    @gnat: That question is about something else. – Robert Harvey Apr 23 '15 at 22:56
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    "What if they copyrighted it before I got a chance to?" - you always have a chance to, even if you didn't put the copyright on it. By creating it, it is copyrighted at that very instant. – user40980 Apr 23 '15 at 23:09
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    @RobertHarvey - if it is a code he wrote he has the copyright to it weather he registers (advisable) it or not - copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#register. – Yazad Apr 23 '15 at 23:31

Copyright, trademark, and patents are three very different things with very different laws concerning each. You seem to be confused on the basics of these matters you should do some research; here is a document explaining some of the US copyright system.

In general:

  • Copyright protects a specific expressions of an idea.
  • Patents protect inventions; generally physical.
  • Trademark protects business names, logos, etc.

Copyright attaches when the work is fixated, i.e. when you write it down, record it as a file on a storage device, etc. You don't need to register a copyright to own it; you need to register your copyright if you want to sue someone and be eligible for statutory damages. Actual damages can be awarded even without registration (n.b. I Am Not A Lawyer (IANAL.))

can someone else just take my plugin and copyright it?

Legally no, could they register it anyway, possibly.

can someone trademark the name of my plugin

I don't know much about trademark law, if they are using the mark then probably; i.e. they happen to have a similar product already that uses the name. The test, if i recall correctly, is about market confusion, i.e. could someone confuse your product for mine. Also, trademarks have to go through a 'comment' period where interested parties can object to your mark.

What if they file for a provisional patent on my work? Can they do that?

Legally no, since software patents are abstract and are rarely valid, but invalid patents are granted all the time. Most software patents wouldn't hold up in court but the cost of litigation allows invalid patents to be wielded as a threat, again IANAL!

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    Trademarks are restricted to a particular market or field of operations. You can and do have several companies called "Sun" working in different markets, without infringing on each others trade markets. – James Anderson Apr 24 '15 at 4:19

You establish ownership by asserting copyright.

I can easily do this for a $1000 fee. Or you could do it yourself by inserting a comment:

// Copyright Your Name Here , 24/04/2015, all rights reserved

at the top of your source code.

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    This is not exactly correct. Copyright is automatic when the work is put in a "fixed form," and this is the case in all countries that are signatories of the Berne Convention. Assertion of Copyright only clarifies the ownership. Registration is not required in any of these countries. However, registration makes prosecution of Copyright infringement a great deal easier, since it short-circuits the process of establishing ownership. Assertion is also a good place to specify which rights are offered to recipients. ("All rights reserved" means, I believe, "none are offered.") – greyfade Apr 24 '15 at 4:54

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