Computer programs could be protected as patent?

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An invention is an intellectual product created from creativity, including products in the form of objects, processes and methods.

A computer program is a set of instructions expressed in the form of instructions, codes, schemas, or any other form.

Hence, can computer program be patented?

Vietnam IP Law provides as follows:

According to Article 22.1 of Law on Intellectual Property 2005, amended 2009:

“Copyright in computer programs and data collections

Computer program means a set of instructions expressed in the form of commands, codes, diagrams and other forms which, when incorporated in a device readable by a computer, are capable of enabling such computer to perform a job or achieve a specific result.

Computer programs shall be protected the same as literary works, irrespective of whether the computer programs are expressed in the form of source codes or machine codes.”

Under this provision, computer programs will be protected under copyright.

At the same time, according to Article 59 of Law on Intellectual Property also stipulates Objects ineligible for protection as inventions:

  1. Scientific discoveries or theories, mathematical methods.
  2. Schemes, plans, rules and methods for performing mental acts, training domestic animals, playing games and doing business; computer programs.
  3. Presentations of information.
  4. Solutions of aesthetic characteristics only.
  5. Plant varieties, animal breeds.
  6. Processes of plant or animal production which are principally of a biological nature, other than microbiological processes.
  7. Human and animal disease prevention methods, diagnostic and treatment methods.

Therefore, Law on Intellectual Property clearly states that computer programs are not object to protection in the name of inventions.

However, according to the regulations on examination of patent applications (issued together with Decision No. 487/QD-SHTT dated March 31, 2010, of the Director of the National Office of Intellectual Property issued by the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam), stipulates: “Although a computer program is included in the category of non-patent patents, if the subject-matter claimed is of a technical nature and is indeed a technical solution, intended to solve a problem technique by a technical means to produce a technical effect, it can be protected as a patent..”

Thus, in case the object of the claim has technical characteristics and is associated with a technical device such as a computer, a phone, a tablet, etc. and the specification is written in the form of an implementation process, the computer program can be protected as an invention.

See more:

Protection of inventions/utility solutions in Vietnam