Until the late 1990s the only way of obtaining legal protection for software was by copyright. This was easy as no formal procedures were required since the copyright existed as soon as the software was created. However, copyright is a weak safeguard compared with a patent where ownership can be proved relatively easily and it is possible to sue without having to prove that copying has taken place. Unfortunately, getting a patent for software was a very difficult process. However, the late 1990s saw a liberalization of American practice and a number of computer programs and business processes have won patents.