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Software protection

Software development normally takes up a lot of time and money. The marketing of the new software then requires substantial investments to sell the product. Unfortunately, digital piracy is rife across the world, with companies or individuals illegally using, copying or distributing software without the developer’s permission or without making any payment. Pre-arranging the protection of your software will put you in a stronger position.

The importance of pre-arrangement: If you publicise or market your new software product before your rights have been established or your application has been filed, you will lose the opportunities for effective protection.

Legal areas

Software protection takes place at the interface between a number of legal areas, including patent rights and copyright. Contract law may also play a part. It is the job of our specialists to identify the most suitable or applicable right in your case.

Arnold + Siedsma will be pleased to assist you in protecting software that you have developed. Depending on the nature and potential scope of your software product, we will be pleased to identify the protection or combination of legal areas that is preferable in your case.

Software and patent rights

As the developer of software programs, you may call yourself the inventor of the new product. As such, this would entitle you to apply for a patent that offers you protection for a maximum of 20 years. However, the matter is not so simple. Considerable legal uncertainty surrounds the patentability of software-related inventions, because, in contrast to the USA, software has traditionally been legally excluded from patent protection in the Netherlands and in most European countries. Supporters and opponents of patent protection for software ensure a lively debate. For the procedural requirements, see patent procedures.

One Click Patent:A known example of a software patent granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the patent for webstore Amazon’s ‘one-click shopping’, with which purchase orders can be processed more quickly via the Internet.

Software and copyright

Since the introduction of greater flexibility into the Dutch Copyright Act and a European Directive in 1991, computer programs expressly fall under the provisions of copyright. The developer (a person or company) is the copyright holder who acquires two types of rights: exploitation rights and personality rights. The copyright arises automatically when a work is created and appears to offer adequate protection. However, the international reach of the Internet throws up new legal questions relating to the enforcement of the creator's exploitation rights. Read also copyright.

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