Software now occupies an important place in the digital economy. It can be protected by patent law or by copyright. ICOSA is there to enlighten you on the steps of protection.

  • Software protection

  • Database protection

  • What happens when integrating open source elements

  • Strategic use of software patents

  • Software-specific copyright protection

  • Secret

Software protection

Contrary to popular belief, software can, under certain conditions, be protected by a patent, and cumulatively by copyright. Patent protection may be obtained for software that includes features that together constitute a technical solution to a technical problem. Copyright protection is more about the software architecture, the sequence of instructions, the object code, the source code, the logical interfaces.

Database protection

Databases are today increasingly important intangible assets. They can be protected by the sui generis right of databases, often called the “right of the database producer”, but also by copyright. To benefit from this right, the database producer must demonstrate that he has made a substantial investment to create his database.

What happens when integrating open source elements

In many software, the creation required the use of open source elements. For example, these elements are often open access and facilitate the development of new software. However, they are associated with legal obligations. These obligations vary: the source code may be subject to a so-called free license or a so-called open source license. A point of attention is therefore necessary.

Strategic use of software patents

For a long time now, large software companies have been using the software patent as a strategic tool. From the touch screen to intelligent links, through artificial intelligence, these patents are more and more numerous and follow the evolution of the digitalization of our societies. Based on the functionalities implemented by computer programs, they have become valuable objects.

Software-specific copyright protection

Copyright is born from creation. Yet it is necessary to prove the date of this creation, and the existence of this creation. For software and databases, different means of proof are possible. At ICOSA, in France, we often use the services of the Association for the Protection of Programs (APP), an organization recognized for providing a sufficient level of proof of creation, both for software and for databases.


For documentation associated with the software, it can be filed with the APP at the same time as the software, but it can also be filed with the INPI by way of an electronic soleau envelope (e-soleau). This service of the INPI makes it possible to acquire a certain date and is adapted to voluminous files. It is also well adapted to give a certain date to the graphic interfaces.