Computer Software

Protection through patents: since 1985, in accordance with decisions of Boards of Appeal under the provision of the old Patents Act of 1910, the Dutch Patent Office was willing to grant patents on nearly all kinds of software-related inventions. Only data carriers, like cd-roms, were excluded from patentability.

In the Patents Act of 1995, a new Article 2 was included listing non-patentable items. Among those items are computer programs which are excluded from patentability as such (Art. 2(2c) and 2(3)). However, the wording of this Article is taken from the European Patent Convention, and, although no specific case law exists, the general feeling is that those software-related inventions on which the European Patent Office may grant a patent will also be patentable in the Netherlands. Thus, probably valid patent claims can be obtained on those software-related inventions which are somehow related to a technical effect in a very broad sense. Moreover, since the Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office has recently decided that also data carriers and down loading of software through e.g. the Internet should be patentable, it is highly likely that also in the Netherlands a broad range of different valid patent claims (method, apparatus, data carrier and down loading) can be obtained.

Protection through copyright: on July 7, 1994, the Dutch Copyright Act was amended as required by a directive of the European Community dated May 14, 1991, regarding the protection of computer programs (91/250/EC). From that day on, computer programs and preparatory material are protected by copyright, as far as ruled by Articles 10(1), 10(2), 32a, 33, and 45h through 45n of the Copyright Act. On July 1, 2015, the Dutch Copyright Act was further amended. Authors of software have extended possibilities to arrange a reasonable compensation for the exploitation of the software by third parties.