Computer Software

Computer software can be protected under specific circumstances by the following laws:

(A) Copyright Law of September 9, 1965, last amended on June 23, 2021:

Protection arises for computer programs, if the computer program is based on an original intellectual creation, going significantly beyond the prior art. 

Registration: not possible. 

Duration: seventy years after the death of the author of the computer program.

(B) Patent Law of December 16, 1980, last amended on June 23, 2021:

Although the Patent Law excludes the protection of computer programs as such (per se), patent protection may be accessible, if the computer program has a technical character. A method or process is not excluded from patentability, if it is exclusively used within a computer.

(C) Further protection may be derived on a case-by-case basis from the Law against Unfair Competition (including protection of trade secrets), the Trade Mark Law, the legal Regulations for Contracts, etc.


(A) Definition: computer programs in any form are considered software under the Copyright Law. Protection applies to all forms of expression (e.g. programming language code and compiled code). However, ideas and principles are not protected (in such cases, Patent Law protection may be advisable). Databases are protected by separate provisions. Depending on the case, patent protection may be obtained. 

Filing: copyright in a computer program is automatically generated at the moment of creation, hence no filing is required. For patent protection, see Section “Filing II.3“. 

Ownership: copyright in a computer program belongs initially to the author, however if the program is created by an employee as part of his duties or following instructions of the employer, the employer is entitled to exercise the rights unless there is an agreement to the contrary. 

Infringement: unless permitted by specific provisions of the Law, the following acts constitute infringement when carried out without permission of the copyright owner: the reproduction (copying) of the program, the distribution of the program and the public display of the program. Other acts may also be held as infringing copyright. 

Duration: copyright in a computer program expires seventy years after the author has died, unless the author is anonymous.

(B) For protection under the Patent Law, see Section “Registration, Protection II.5“.