Intellectual Property (IP) Rights in the Field of IT in Belarus

The protection of intellectual property rights is gaining huge popularity, especially in IT technologies in Belarus. However, this type of protection has its own nuances. This article discusses the main aspects of intellectual property rights protection in the IT sector of Belarus and the possibilities of protecting the rights of developers in this sector.

What types of IP rights in the field of IT in Belarus

There are four main types of IP rights in the field of IT technology: 

  • Patents.
  • Copyright.
  • Trademarks.
  • A trade secret. 

Depending on the type of rights, the Republic of Belarus legislation establishes various protection methods.

What is a patent?

As a general rule, a patent gives the right to produce, use and sell an invention patented for 20 years. However, according to the legislation, a computer program does not belong to inventions, and it is impossible to patent and, accordingly, protect it with a patent. Industrial property law does not protect computer programs. In other countries, it is possible to patent technology in IT. For example, Amazon has patented the payment technology with one button on the screen.

A computer program is essentially a record of an algorithm in a programming language. However, it is possible to use patents to protect a computer program. With the help of a patent, you can defend the concept of a computer program that underlies it and subsequently use the patent-protected invention to develop websites and programs. A patent can also protect the functions and methods of a computer program, such as software algorithms, operating system methods, and display devices.

How to get a patent for an invention

An application is submitted to the National Intellectual Property Center (NCIS) to apply for a patent. In the application:

  1. They are asking for a patent for an invention.
  2. The invention is described in such detail that it can be understood whether it is feasible.
  3. Indicate the essence of the invention and its formula based on the description.

An abstract is attached to the application.

What is copyright? 

The concept of the program is not protected by copyright.

A computer program can be protected by copyright as a form of expression of an idea. Copyright protects the source code, object code, and unique parts of the interface of all computer programs and operating systems in any language and form.

You do not need to apply for copyright protection or receive any documents. Copyrights to a computer program do not need to be registered. The author’s rights are protected since the program’s creation.

Copyrights are realized in two forms: proprietary and personal non-proprietary.

The proprietary rights to a computer program allow the author to use it at his discretion. Property rights are protected throughout the author’s life, plus 50 years. 

Personal non-property rights are authorship rights that cannot be transferred to other persons. The copyright to the program code that belongs to a particular programmer or company cannot be transferred or sold. Sell or transfer to other persons the right to use the program code. Personal non-property rights are protected without a time limit.

The author, or the person who obtained it with the consent of the author, is the owner of the exclusive right to a computer program as an object of intellectual property – the copyright holder. The copyright holder may allow other persons to use the computer program in whole or in part, transfer the right to it, and allow them to install it. The rights of the author of the computer program are protected from illegal copying and distribution in case of unfair competition. The protection applies to cases of illegal distribution of a computer program by translation into other programming languages.

The database as an author’s work is protected as a composite work. In this case, the author has the copyright to select and organize the materials. The information itself, which is collected and systematized in the database, is not protected by copyright.

Administrative liability is established for copyright infringement – a fine of up to 50 basic units.

Register of computer programs

The copyright holder of a computer program may voluntarily register a computer program in the Register of Registered Computer Programs. To register a computer program in the Registry, you need to apply to the NCIS. A package of documents is attached to the application, which is necessary for registering a computer program in the Registry. In particular, the description and materials of the computer program that the NCIS accepts for storage. After reviewing the application, it is necessary to agree with the NCIS. After registration:

  1. Data about the computer program is entered into the Registry.
  2. NCIS issues a certificate of registration for a computer program. 

What is a trade secret?

A trade secret, like a patent, protects the concept of software. Protecting intellectual property rights in the field of IT with the help of trade secrets is increasingly used in Belarus.

A trade secret is information of various types (technical, industrial, organizational, commercial, financial, and others), including production secrets (know-how), that comply with the requirements of the law and are protected as a trade secret. For confidential information to be protected as a trade secret, it is necessary to establish a trade secret regime in the company.

Trade secrets do not apply to those IP objects in the field of IT that are protected by copyright. However, it can extend to well-known and inaccessible other codes and processes. 

The company develops policies and local documents on trade secrets, which are introduced to newly hired employees.

Large companies even fire employees for violating trade secrets related to the disclosure of technical characteristics of IT products.

When an IT company develops a unique algorithm or uses memorable lines of code in its software products, the company’s owners must first ensure a trade secret regime. However, it is worth remembering that, unlike patents, trade secret protection measures do not apply to software elements determined using legitimate methods, such as reverse engineering or the independent creation of a similar object.

According to the legislation, the trade secret regime is not limited by the validity period.

Registration of a trademark, service mark

Trademarks and service marks include designations that distinguish goods and services from similar goods and services of other persons. Phrases, words, and visual designations can be registered as trademarks. A trademark is protected after it is registered with the National Intellectual Property Center.

A company or an individual can register a trademark.

What are the ways to protect intellectual property rights in the field of information technology

In Belarus, copyright holders have several rights to protect intellectual property. In the event of a dispute related to the unjustified use of IT products, copyright holders can use the following methods of protection:

  1. File a complaint with the Appeals Board at the National Intellectual Property Center. A complaint can be filed against the granting and non-granting patents related to the protection of trademarks and service marks.
  2. Submit an application to the internal affairs bodies for bringing copyright infringers to administrative responsibility.
  3. File a complaint with the Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade on unfair competition.
  4. To defend your intellectual property right in court. In Belarus, the judicial board for Intellectual Property of the Supreme Court considers disputes related to intellectual property and copyright. The economic court may consider the case and even resolve it. Still, in case of appeal, higher courts will refuse to consider it and indicate that the parties have appealed to a court that does not have the right to consider cases in the field of intellectual property. You can also apply to the International Arbitration Court or the Arbitration Court. If all the parties to the dispute are in Belarus, they cannot apply to a foreign court. When one of the parties to the conflict is a non-resident, the parties can determine the contractual jurisdiction in the Belarusian or foreign arbitration court, a foreign court or the judicial board for the intellectual property of the Supreme Court. 

How to contact us 

For more information or advice on IP protection issues in Belarus’s IT field, do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help and support you.

Phone and e-mail communication options are available for your convenience:

  • +375293664477 (WhatsApp/Telegram/Viber);
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