Computer Software

– Articles spread within Books I to III of the Intellectual Property Code (author’s right, the French equivalent of copyright).

Membership in International Conventions

– Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886), revised several times, the last time in Paris 1971.
– Geneva Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1952), revised in Paris 1971.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement, since January 1, 1995.

Conditions of Software Protection

Filing: not mandatory, but advisable to give a specific date to the creation.

Right to protection: belongs to the author or his assignee and successors in title.

Employee’s software: if computer software is created by one or several employees in execution of their functions, all economic rights belong to the employer, unless otherwise stipulated.

Foreigners: the same rights as for nationals, for those benefiting from the Geneva Convention, or subject to reciprocity.

Originality: an intellectual creation should be “original” to enjoy the benefit of protection under the Law. Three decisions of the French Supreme Court rendered on March 7, 1986 are in favor of a broad application of the originality requirement to computer software.

Effects of Protection

Scope of protection: the functionalities of software are not protected by the author’s right (Tribunal of Commerce, Nanterre, February 9, 2007 – see also decision SAS Institute, ECJ, May 2, 2012). 

Duration: the entire life of the author and seventy years after his death.

Assignment: possible, in consideration of a lump sum payment. The author cannot oppose to the adaptation of the software by his assignee, or to the use of the software.

Infringement: any copy except one copy for safeguard; any use not expressly authorized by the author or his successors in title. Evidence may be obtained by seizure of the software (consisting in a description, copy, or seizure of support of the software).