We are a firm producing businesses programmes. One of our ex-workers, after resigning a few months ago, has started working for a competitor company which, strangely, has started selling a programme very similar to one created by us. Is it possible to stop the plagiarism of the software? What can we actually do?

The law on copyright, following the modification made by the regulation n. 518/1992 first and the law 248/2000 afterwards, undoubtedly protects the programs for the computer, this beyond any discussions about their possible patenting. So, if a firm has made an innovative programme, feels that the one of a competitor is similar, can surely go to a judge asking for veto and damage compensation. Obviously, the first thing to do is to search for the appropriate tools to prove the plagiarism. If possible, it is advisable to purchase a copy of the copied programme, whilst should this not be possible as the software is installed at the firms computers, then other instruments could be used such as the probationary seizing.

It is right comparing to see if there is plagiarism, whether the programme has been wholly or partially copied, as any type of reproduction of an intellectual work is considered illicit if unauthorised. On the penal level, up to today, the matter has been argued, but following the sentence of the Cassation Court of February 2002, making a partial copy of a programme can bring about the hypothetical offence as by the art. n. 171 of the regulation. Consequently, in this specific case, it is necessary to evaluate whether, together with the civil action, it could be the case to also file a charge. The situation gets more complicated as it could have been the ex-worker to distribute news about the programme, circumstance that could worsen the position of this person.