The term software refers to computer programs, or a sequence of instructions executed in order to perform a specific task. For the protection of software considered as a whole (algorithms, code, interface), several tools are used simultaneously, each of which safeguards a specific aspect of the program.

As a matter of fact, software may be protected by copyright when it meets creativity and originality requirements, or by patent when from a technical point of view it contains one or more innovative algorithms.

In the first case, copyright protection may be afforded to the software if it constitutes an “intellectual creation of the author”, such as to be considered a work of the human intellect, and therefore protected by copyright legislation (Law no. 633 of 22 April 1941), on a par with works belonging to the fields of literature, music, etc.

The same considerations apply to databases that prove to be an intellectual creation of their author, based on the materials they contain or the way they are arranged.


The application may be filed by any interested parties, and must be accompanied by a CD-ROM containing the computer program.

Filing of application

The application for registering the software can be filed with the Registro Pubblico Speciale (Special Public Registry) maintained by the SIAE (Italian Society of Authors and Publishers).

The Registry is not exhaustive, and may contain programs that do not enjoy the protections afforded by law. Similarly, software that is already publicly available may not be present in the Registry.

Duration of copyright protection

Like other works subject to copyright law, the protection of software lasts throughout the author’s lifetime and for 70 years after his/her death. If economic rights are transferred, the duration will always be calculated based on the author’s life, regardless of who the buyer is.

Which countries afford protection

Software is protected under the national law of the country where it is produced or distributed. However, local legislation should be examined on a case-by-case basis.


In addition to copyright protection, software may also be eligible for an industrial invention patent, providing it introduces a technical innovation.


  • Software protection consultancy and assistance
  • Drafting and filing of patent applications for software in any country in Europe and all over the world.
  • Advice on matters pertaining to software copyright infringement or violation.
  • Assistance with relations with customs authorities

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