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What objects belong to computer programs?

02 Feb 2024
#Practical tips
Patent Attorney / Chemical Specialist

Before determining which objects fall under computer programs, let's understand their definition.

According to Art. 1261 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, a computer program is a set of data and commands presented in an objective form, intended for the operation of a computer and other computer devices in order to obtain a certain result, including preparatory materials obtained during the development of a computer program, and the audiovisual displays generated by it.

Computer programs are protected by copyright, and no certificate is required to confirm it. Copyright arises automatically with the author at the moment he creates the result of his creative work, in this case - software (text) code.

However, in order to be able to prove authorship in controversial situations resolved in court, the developer is recommended to either carry out state registration of the computer program by submitting an application for registration to Rospatent or send himself the code and audiovisual displays generated by the program in any visually perceptible form by an official letter. It is important to record the date of departure, which will be equal to the date of creation.

If the developer decides to register with Rospatent, in accordance with the Guidelines for the implementation of administrative procedures and actions within the framework of the provision of public services for state registration of a program for electronic computers, the application must contain: a statement indicating the copyright holder (applicant), as well as the author, if he is not refused to be mentioned as such, and the residence or location of each of them, deposited materials identifying the computer program, including the abstract.

If an agreement is drawn up allowing a third party to use a computer program registered with Rospatent, then such a license agreement for the software must also be registered with the patent office.

Software from the point of view of a technical specialist is a program or set of programs that provide control of components of a computer system, such as a processor, RAM, input/output devices, network equipment, on one side of which there is hardware, and on the other - user applications. From the point of view of a patent specialist, it is the result of intellectual activity obtained through a combination of technical and creative approaches.

Thus, the following objects can be registered as a computer program, essentially representing any programs that, according to the software classification, are described in sufficient detail in the international standard ISO/IEC 12182 - these are system, application, and instrumental software:

  • operating systems;
  • programs for 2D/3D - design and modeling;
  • document management systems;
  • programs for processing business messages, compilation, scientific computing, text processing (translators, messengers);
  • programs designed to support medical systems and control systems;
  • mobile applications;
  • website management programs;
  • programs written for industrial controllers that carry out the automation process;
  • programs for managing operations at ATMs and terminals, etc.

Having a certificate for a computer program gives the applicant the right to use it at his own discretion, the right is valid throughout the life of its creator (author), as well as for another 70 years after his death, just as for the work literature.

A serious disadvantage of copyright is that by changing the source code of a program, a competitor will be able to use his program without violating the rights of the author of the original code. Therefore, patent experts recommend that copyright holders use comprehensive software protection, since a software product can not only be deposited.

The software product contains a name that can be additionally protected as a verbal trademark. It is possible to develop a logo identifying the product, which can be protected as a figurative or combined trademark. The user interface is subject to patenting as an industrial design, and the algorithm or hardware-software complex is subject to patenting as an invention.

Another argument in favor of comprehensive protection is that patents are territorial. A patent for an invention or industrial design is valid only in the territory of the country in which it was received. Due to the development of the Internet, IT solutions are instantly distributed throughout the world. Thus, without proof of copyright, it is impossible to protect the program code from copying by unscrupulous competitors all over the world.

Often, software developments include a complex of intellectual property that can be protected, and authors and their employers do not always weigh the risks of becoming a victim of plagiarism when commercializing their software. Therefore, in order for the protection strategy to be ensured using a competent integrated approach, namely: both the registration of the source code of the program by obtaining a certificate for the computer program, registration of trademarks, and the protection of the algorithm and interface by patents for invention and industrial design, respectively, are carried out, it is recommended to contact to patent specialists (attorneys) who will break down your object into its component parts, explain what documents and in what form need to be submitted to protect a particular object, and take on the process of lengthy paperwork and correspondence with the Rospatent.

Patent Attorney / Chemical Specialist