Letterip: Copyrights are universally used on all new, old and upgraded titles.
In the US copyright is automatic for all copyrightable works, it is impossible to NOT have copyright on a work created in the recent past unless you specifically relinquish that right. What do you mean by 'title' - that generally means game or similar, it looks like here you mean software in general.
Patents must have a novelty which becomes more and more difficult to get especially on upgraded titles. Patents can cost anywhere from 250K->almost 1M$ for heavily researched and defended works. Patents may be issued with much less cost, but these low budget jobs, aren't worth the paper they're printed on and are only an invitation to be sued when the USPTO broadcasts to the world the concept. In many ways these kinds of patents are simply a marketing tool and a sort of credential for the inventor and offer almost no protection.
Ok it looks like you don't know what exactly patents are - you can't patent 'a title', you can patent a process, you can patent a design, not much else. You can do a patent cheaply if you are willing to put in the sweat equity. The worth is determined by what the process covers and who is either infringing it, or who is willing to license it, and your resources to negotiate or persecute.
Although it is foolish not to get patent protection on truly novel software, it might be equally foolish to wait to release a title simply to secure a patent when a copyright can protect as well. Each patent application must have one unique main concept that is novel or else there needs to be more patents applied for which can multiply a software titles patent cost a great deal.
As noted above copyright is automatic. People generally don't wait for patents to go through the patenting process before manufacturing. A patent is generally going through the process long after a product has been delivered. If you recall you were asking about FILE FORMATS - those are something which are excluded from eligibility for copyright. Generally if a company doesn't want interoperability with its file formats they have historically used technical means - ie not documenting the format, obscuring the format by using odd data structures, using a memory dump as the binary format, or using simplistic encryption schemes. In more recent times the DMCA means that a simple encryption scheme makes it essentially illegal for competitors to interoperate with your file format.
Copyrights cost as little as 30$ to register plus nominal fees. The registration is only required for court litigation. The works registered there are proprietary and not searchable and therefore are not broadcast to the world as are patents.
It is fairly easy to keep your patent from being broadcast for a number of years (at least for US filed patents) indeed it is fairly common for at least five years to pass between initial filing and publication. At any rate as noted a file format isn't subject to copyright, so it is irrellevant.
I'm already a member of EFF so I'll take a look there and to the links you provided.
That would be a good idea, would save both you and us a lot of time
So the exporter developers are collecting and paying a licence? No.
Actually those who created gifs using software that utilized the gif compression algorithm without license were infringing on the gif patent as well. A patent holder is within his rights to sue an end user, contrary to the previous posters claim. However, it was infringement on the algorithm patent, not usage of the format that was illegal (certain formats are impossible to create without usage of a specific algorithm). Same for mp3s - it is the infringement on the compression algorithm patent that is illegal. For 3DS there are (to the best of my knowledge) no patents that are neccessary to the writing of the format, therefore there are no legal barriers to reading or writing the 3DS format.
Unlike Letterrip, I'm reasonably certain that they own their own copyrights.
???? I've never claimed they don't 'own their own copyrights' just that a file format is something not subject to copyright law.
I don't pretend to know that the 3ds file format is patented.
You can't patent a file format. You can only patent a process that is involved in the creation of the file, a process which it may be impossible to create the format without.