World Intellectual Property Organization

The Protection of Computer Programs - The Case of Payroll S.A. (Chile)

The firm Payroll S.A. began as what was very much a family basis, headed by the economist Rodrigo Castro and his father, a civil engineer, who had had a long career in enterprise management and is now responsible for sales in the small firm.

The firm has taken proactive steps to manage its Intellectual property.  To begin with, it undertook the voluntary registration of copyright for its software which is meant to be used for the management of human resources of firms and institutions.  It includes comprehensive solutions covering all aspects relating to staff management, such as remuneration, matters of short-term interest and so on.

The software products of the firm are also protected with an (encrypted) logic key, which ensures that the product is linked to the user's hard disk and cannot be moved or copied. 

The firm has two trademarks, which are registered as trademarks with the Industrial Property Department.

The copyright in the software is also voluntarily registered in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Peru; but that is not the case with the Payroll trademark, as in those countries it is considered to be a generic name.

The software and its updates are developed by the Enterprise Development Department.   However, certain tools used in their production (programming module and languages) come from outside under a license contract with other private firms.  Another form of software is being generated, supported by the National Fund for Technology and Production Development (FONTEC), which provides 60 per cent of the funding, details of which cannot be provided for reasons of confidentiality.

The firm transfers its technology by granting licenses with the necessary updates, stemming mainly from the changes in labor legislation.  Also relevant is the technical advice which the firm provides, adapting the basic software to the particular needs of each firm, together with training in how to use it.  Intellectual property rights are also incorporated in the firm's accounting assets, but have already been redeemed.

The intellectual property system is considered essential for the economic life of the firm, and so it attaches "very great" importance to that system, given that "business depends on that".  However, piracy is estimated at equivalent to five per cent of the total number of licenses granted.  The management processes for registering copyright and marks have been undertaken directly by the firm's own staff.  However, the software updates have not been protected owing to a series of criticisms concerning the functioning of the intellectual property system.

Case taken from the WIPO publication:  "Intellectual Property in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises:  the Case of Chile".  See the WIPO Electronic Bookshop.

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