The author of a computer program may decide to transfer his intellectual property rights. If a contract is concluded between the author, who is a natural person, and a third party, it must respect a number of requirements in order to be valid.

Written requirement

A contract transferring software rights must be drafted in writing.

A clear contract

The contract must be drafted in clear terms. In the event of clauses whereof the scope is unclear, the interpretation most favorable to the author of the software will be adopted in the event of recourse to the courts. The transferred property rights must be clearly listed: are all the rights being transferred or only some of them, and which ones?

Mandatory content

Modes of exploitation

The contract must specify the modes of exploitation for which the rights are being transferred and their scope. For example, do the rights being transferred only allow the third party to market the software by selling physical copies or can the software be sold via the Internet as well? 

Moreover, contracts may not pertain to a form of exploitation that does not yet exist. As such, contracts that were concluded when the Internet did not yet exist cannot be interpreted in such a way as to include the commercialization of the software over the Internet.

What fee for the author?

In addition, the fee for each of these modes of exploitation must also be specified. However, this fee may be fixed or in proportion to the revenue generated by its use. The transfer may also be free of charge.

For what duration?

The contract must also specify the period during which the person entering into the agreement with the author will be able to exercise the transferred rights.

Last update
23 March 2022