Computer programs and software also possess a creative/inventive character. Thus, they also qualify for protection. In Brazil, as in almost all the signatory countries of international accords, these rights are recognized as copyright.
In Brazil, the Copyright Law (Law nº 9,610, of February 19, 1998) specified that software registrations shall be regulated by their own legislation. Thus the Software Law (Law nº 9,609, of February 19, 1998) was enacted, which specifies how and where a software registration can be made, as well as specifying its validity among other definitions regarding the proprietary rights of software.
The registration of software assures its holder exclusivity in its production, use and commercialization. In addition to this, the registration of software is essential for proving its authorship and has become a requirement for participating in government tender processes. The validity of the registration is 50 years, counted from January 1st of the year subsequent to its publication.
The registration may be made either in the name of an individual or a legal entity or both, its being up to the owner to decide which, depending on his strategy and judgment, its being possible to have as many owners as established in the registration. This makes it easy to determine the ownership of the software, without doubts regarding who holds the property rights thereof, facilitating negotiations and the transfer of ownership, since there will be no doubts regarding the owners.
Registrations granted in Brazil as proof of ownership are accepted in other countries signatories to international accords. Likewise, software registrations made before the BPO possess international validity. Consult us to discover which countries are protected by software registration.
Below follow some frequent doubts regarding software registration:
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the registration of software protect the idea of the software or the functionality that it possesses?
Neither. Software registration protects the expression of an organized set of instructions in natural or codified language, in other words, source code.
I’ve contracted a company to develop a system for me. Can this company register the software for itself?
Yes, the contracted company may register the software for itself. In order to avoid this sort of situation, it is important that the contract for provision of services with the developer company stipulate clearly that ownership of the source code shall belong to the contracting party.
Do corrections and modifications made to the software after registration need to be registered again?
If the alterations are only corrections of errors and minor improvements, which do not alter the general structure of the source code, a new registration is not necessary. If there are major modifications, or inclusions of new functionalities, or even refactoring of parts of the code, or an accumulation of many corrections over a period of time, the updating of the registration is recommended.
A former programmer contracted by my company is selling software similar to mine. Is this legal?
It depends. If there is full or partial copying of your source code by the former employee such behavior is illegal in accordance with the terms of law 9,609/98. However, the similarity of one program to another pre-existing program does not constitute a violation of software ownership rights, when this occurs due to the functional characteristics of its application, to the observance of normative or technical precepts, or to any other form of limitation regarding its expression.
Do I need to request assignment authorization for all the programmers contracted by the company to make the registration?
No, unless stipulated otherwise, the rights regarding a computer program, developed and elaborated during the validity of a contract or statutory relationship, expressly intended for research and development, or where the activity of the employee, contractor of the service or civil servant is foreseen in, or which derives from, the very nature of the duties concerning these relationships, shall belong exclusively to the employer, contracting party of the services or public agency.
I made alterations to some “free software” available on the Internet. Can I register what I altered?
This will depend on the license used by the “free software”, since each license offers a different kind of permission and/or restriction. Some require the resulting software to be “free” also, including the distribution of the source code at no cost to users. Others allow the resulting software to be “closed” and it may be commercialized normally. In such cases, it is possible to register only the new parts added, if they were significant.
How can a cell phone app be protected?
It can be protected through registration of the software, trademark and copyright of the design of the screens.
I have a cell phone app for iOS and Android. Do I need to make two software registrations?
No, provided that the source code is the same on both platforms, which is to say, a hybrid code. If native software is developed, one for each platform, it is advisable to carry out two registrations.
I possess an API service. What kind of registration can I make?
Provided it has a source code, it can be registered as software before the BPO, regardless of the functionality.
Can I register a website as software?
No. Websites possess specific registration before the entity “Registration.br” which is the department of NIC.br responsible for the registration and maintenance of domain names that use “.br”.
My system possesses various modules. Can I register all of them in a single registration?
It depends on how this software is commercialized. If the licensing of the software occurs by modules, with the individual description of each module, it would be advisable to carry out registration by module. In this way, regarding the licensing contracts and possible tenders that may occur only for some modules, it’s easy to reference and prove the registration. If licensing is made for all the modules at the same time, as a single piece of software, a single registration may be made.
Can I protect a system used by the Internet?
Yes, the source code of the system may be registered as software with the BPO. The application or how the system is used is not relevant for the registration of software. It is recommended not to carry out the registration of software for Internet websites, normally written only in HTML. For such cases, it is recommended to register the website as copyright.