How to protect one’s PHP code and CSS and JS?

Drew posts an interesting question over at WP Questions:

So, I’ve been working hard for six weeks now on a new WordPress framework that will be packaged with our premium themes that are going on sale. The theme will be distributed unpacked with good comments and so on as its fine for the user to

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edit those files as they need and want. However, the framework

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is not supposed to be edited/copied/re-used and if we ship the framework without some level of protection, other theme developers will steal it, re-write a couple of bits, re-design it and sell it as their own with their own themes and I didn’t work 6 long weeks for that to happen.

So, how can I protect my framework code? I’ve written php and javascript and want to be able to encrypt/minify/protect as much as I possibly can of those files that are not for editing (the framework). I already know of a few like ioncube but I want a solution that requires no server installs or edits for the end user of our themes as this is obviously hassle if they have to contact their host or make server changes etc.

The responses are as informative as ever.

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