The last thing most developers want to deal with is legal issues. But in today's legal climate, it’s impossible to separate software development from intellectual property and intellectual property rights. For example, can I use a graphic from a Web site? What are copyrights, trademarks, and patents, and what should I know about them when writing software? John Petersen, who is both a programmer and a lawyer, lays the groundwork for addressing these questions and more in the first in a multipart series on intellectual property for technologists.