A term for various techniques commonly used by Proprietary software vendors to make it harder for their customers to switch to the competition. These techniques include:

  • The use of proprietary data formats by the software, specifications for which are difficult or impossible to get, thereby limiting the customers’ ability to move their own data into software from other vendors.
  • The use of proprietary APIs and communication Protocols, again limiting the customers’ ability to freely move data to and from software provided by other vendors.
  • Taking out Patents, including, where possible, SoftwarePatents, to simply prevent potential competitors from creating alternative products.

It’s worth pointing out that the key to running a successful business is not just to get your customers to pay you money, but to make them feel good about doing so. If they start to feel that your charges are becoming burdensome, then they will actively look for ways to avoid paying those charges, perhaps by moving to competing products. Making your customers feel good about sticking with you is the best competitive weapon you can have.