In Brazil, any type of computer program, registered or not, has its intellectual property protected by law and it can be registered to assure legal rights and security. In this article we will describe the software registration process in Brazil.
A computer program is legally categorized as any set of instructions in code or natural language, contained inside a physical support of any nature, where usage is necessary to make them work in order to reach determined ends. Software has its protection assured by copyright, as specified in Lei de Software, or Software Law, and later by Lei de Direito Autoral, or Copyright Law. Both were started in 1998 in order to guarantee the intellectual property of computer programs. Therefore computer programs are copyright protected, even though they are not registered with INPI, the National Institute of Industrial Property. These rights are also assured for foreigners and companies located abroad as long as the country of origin of the software also provides equivalent rights.
Entitlement of software rights
In order to guarantee the computer program entitlement rights, it is necessary to prove its authorship with published evidence of the program creation. Therefore programs can be registered with INPI, providing legal security for the software author.
Copyright protection is assured by law with or without registry with INPI, and it is valid for 50 years after the publishing or creation of the program, counting from January 1st of the following year. The owner can reclaim authorship of the program at any time, and oppose any unauthorized modification that can harm the company’s honour or reputation.
The entitlement and rights for software developed and elaborated during an employment contract belong exclusively to the employer, service acquirer or public entity. It will belong to the employee, contracted or public servant only if the software was created with no relation to an employment contract, without using any kind of resource, technology, material or facility from the employer.
Registering computer programs
The registration of a computer program is optional, working as an extra assurance for the creator. In order to register, a few steps must be followed, that include completing specific documentation available on INPI’s website, and payment of the GRU, or Union Collection Guide. It usually takes 6 months for registration to be granted, but it can vary depending on the amount of material sent to INPI.
The first step is prepare and complete the formal and technical documentation that must be later submitted to INPI, in order to properly register the program. Noting that the author is the person who developed the computer program and the entitled is the bearer of its patrimonial rights, which can be the same person or company, depending on the case.
The formal documentation includes:
- Pedido de Registro de Programa de Computador, or the Computer Program Registry Request, properly completed and signed
- GRU payment receipt of BRL 355. For micro and small companies, for individual micro entrepreneurs, cooperatives, educational and research institutions, non-profit and public entities the fee is BRL 142
- Authorization for the copy of technical documentation, also known as Autorização para cópia da documentação técnica, properly completed and signed if the technical documentation is presented in CD or DVD format
- If the entitled is different from the author, the Documento de Cessão de Direitos Patrimoniais, known as the Patrimonial Rights Cession Document, or the employment contract, must be provided
- If the entitled is an organization, the articles of association must be provided
- If it is a derivative computer program, an authorization document for the original program must be provided, according to the available model of the Autorização do Titular para Derivação, or the Derivative Entitled Authorization
The technical documentation consists of:
- The presentation, with two copies, of the complete or partial listing of the source code or object, besides the specifications and fluxograms of the computer program. This data can be recorded in PDF format on CD or DVD
- Both discs must be inside separated resistant cases and sent inside separated SEDEX plastic envelopes, that can be bought at any Correios office for BRL 2.80 or BRL 3.10, depending on the size needed
- One envelope will be stored at INPI and the other returned to the sender
- Technical documentation received that does not have the copy authorization document will not be accepted
The code lines are protected and cannot be revealed, being stored inside a special envelope at the INPI security archive. It can only be revealed by a requirement from the entitled or legal order.
The registration process can only be initiated after payment of the GRU. The complete documentation can be delivered to an INPI office, or sent by registered mail in an A4 envelope. All technical documentation must be printed on A4 paper and delivered inside envelopes. Each of these envelopes can contain a maximum of 7 sheets.
The price for registering software that requires submitting up to 5 envelopes with the documentation is up to BRL 590.
It is important that the user tracks the registration process, since it can demand additional documents to be sent. The process can be tracked by either:
- Checking the RPI, or Industrial Property Magazine, published on Tuesdays
- Via the Push system, that sends notifications by e-mail every time there is any development in the process. This is an additional service and does not substitute the verification in the RPI magazine
Registering your software online via e-RPC
Since September 2017, INPI made available an online system that allows the registration of the software via a system called e-RPC, which replaces the procedure described above for software registration.
The new system shortens significantly the time to register the software, from months to a week. The procedure is conducted via INPI website, and it is no longer necessary to submit the entire source code to INPI, only the cryptographic hash summary. The document will also have to be digitally signed by the developer or the developer representative. INPI also requires a truthfulness statement to be attached to the requirement.