I. Brief Introduction of Computer Software Protection in China


Computer software is one of the objects protected by the Copyright Law of the People's Republication of China. In order to further protect the interests of copyright owner of computer software and promote the developments of software industry and digitalization of the national economy, the State Council of China promulgated the new "Regulations on Protection of Computer Software" on December 12, 2001, said Regulations became effective on January 1, 2002. Said Regulations set it clear and regulated in details of protection to copyright of computer software.


The object of the copyright protection is computer programs and their relevant documents. The subject of the copyright protection is the developer who enjoys the copyright, or other kind of right owners obtained right through assignment, in heritage or licensee. Since China joined the Berne Convention, computer software shall be automatically protected in China for its copyright once it is completed in a member state of the convention. However, for a computer software made in a non-member state, to obtain copyright protection in China, the software shall be published in one of the member states first. The protection term of software copyright of a natural person is his lifetime and the fifty years immediately after his death. When the software is co-developed, the software copyright ends at the end of the 50th year immediately after the death of the last lived co-owner. The protection term is 50 years from its first publication if the owner of the software is a legal entity or other kind of organization.


II. Registration of Computer Software


Under our law and practice, it is not necessary to register the copyright of computer software in China. However, in order to more easily deal with copyright dispute, the copyright of a computer software is recommended to be registered in China because the registration certificate of copyright, which is valid nationwide in China, shall be deemed as a prima facie evidence of the copyright to the copyright owner in legal proceedings.


To obtain a copyright registration for computer software in China, a foreign applicant may entrust a Chinese agency to file an application with the Chinese Software Registration Center of the Chinese Copyright Office.


1. Requirements on Registration of Copyright


1) An application form which shall be signed by the applicant; if there are more than one applicants, one applicant may represent all the other while submitting at the same time an authorization to said applicant.

2) Name, address (including post code), nationality and identification number of the applicant; name and telephone number of the person to contact if the applicant is an entity. The applicant should be the software right owner. Please also indicate:

(1) Whether the applicant is the original copyright owner or an heir or assignee of the copyright. If the applicant is an heir or assignee, a notarized copy of certificate of inheritance or assignment of the copyright shall be provided.

(2) The status in which the copyright is owned by the copyright owner, solely or jointly.

3) Evidence to prove the identification of the applicant, i.e.

(1) For individual applicant, notarized copy of identification card, or,

(2) For entity as applicant, notarized copy of business license.

4) Name, address and nationality of the developer of the software. Please also indicate the ways of developing the software, i.e., the software is developed either independently or cooperatively or under entrustment or as a task, in which, if there is any involvement in the ownership of the copyright, please also provide a notarized copy of contract or agreement thereof.

5) Title (full name and simplified name), classification number, version number, date of completion of the software, date and place of the first publication of the software (if it has been published).

6) Type of the software, i.e., whether it is an initially created software or a revised one or a combined one or a translated one. If it is not an initially created software, please provide the title, version number and registration number, if any, of the original software and an authorization by the original software owner for revision or combination or translation, and briefly describe (no more than 100 words) the background of obtaining the copyright together with an indication if the original software has ever been published. If the software is a combined one, please also briefly describe the contents obtained from the originals.

7) Hardware environments, including title and model/type of the computer used for developing the software, minimum requirements to inner and outer memories title and model/type of computer on which the software is mainly operated, and requirements on other peripheral equipment.

8) Software environments, including title and version number of operation system, titles and version numbers of supporting environment and language for programming, length of the source program list (items), and title and model/type of medium for storing the software.

9) Applicable area, types of trades/industries to which the software is mainly applicable and the main use of the software in those trades/industries.

10) Retail price or quoted price (US$).

11) A description of the software, which should comprise (no more than 500 words): the objects of developing the software, main functions, capabilities and other technical features of the software or its newly added portion if the software is a revised one.

12) Source program list: 20 consecutive pages for each of the beginning, middle and ending portion of the source program list, or the whole source program list if it is less than 60 pages in total.

13) Documentation materials, at least one of the materials below:

(1) Specification of design.

(2) User's guide.

(3) Maintaining guide.

(4) Operation guide.

(5) Program flow chart.


Which shall be 20 consecutive pages for each of the beginning, middle and ending portion of the materials , or the whole materials, if it is less than 60 pages in total.


2. Notes:


1) If there is any trade secret and/or other secret contained in the source program list and/or the documentation materials that the applicant does not wish to divulge, the applicant(s) may request, when filing the application, for exceptional submitting the source program list and/or the documentation materials by providing justified reasons. Once the request is approved by the Chinese Software Registration Center, the applicant may choose one of the following ways to submit the source program list and/or the documentation materials:

(1) 20 consecutive pages for each of the beginning, middle and ending portion of the source program list and/or the documentation materials with the secret parts covered by darkened lines which shall not exceed 30%.

(2) The first 10 consecutive pages and 50 consecutive pages of any other part of the source program list and/or the documentation materials.

(3) 20 consecutive pages for each of the beginning, middle and ending portion of the object code program and 20 consecutive pages of any part of the source program list.

2) After the application is allowed, the applicant may, in order to easily obtaining evidence later, request for seizure of all or the main parts of the source program list by indicating the length of the source program list and duration of seizure. The Chinese Software Registration Center shall seal the stored source program list and shall not unseal without either the applicant's permission or the court's decision.