Software Protection

Jane Lambert
27 May 2010

Computer programs, preparatory design material for computer programs and databases from are specifically included within the definition of “literary work”. Hence, copyright may subsist in those works so long as they are original and the qualifications for copyright protection are met. Copyright restricts the reproduction, publishing, rental,  communication to the public or adaptation of those works but not the development or distribution of similar works.

The source code of a computer program (the program written in Latin characters and Arabic numerals in a form readily comprehensible to humans) as well as the underlying design principles, algorithms, programmers comments and other information relating to a program may be protected by the law of confidence so long as they are kept secret.

Although computer programs as such are excluded specifically from patentability by art 52 (2) (c) the European Patents Convention and s.1 (1) (c) of the Patents Act 1977 it is possible for an invention implemented by a computer program that satisfies all the other attributes of patentability to proceed to grant so long as it makes some technical contribution to the art

Investment in obtaining, verifying and presenting the contents of a database as distinct from the intellectual effort in creating it is protected in the UK by a new intellectual property right known as database right.