As mentioned in our previous post, EuroCham Cambodia's recent Whitebook on Trade and Investment Policy Recommendations deals in part with intellectual property issues. Within the chapter on information and communication policy, the authors make several salient points as to the ICT/IP interface in Cambodia:
"The effective implementation of copyright and other intellectual property protection is an essential element of encouraging innovation within ICT. During our consultation with the private sector we learned that some companies were reluctant to invest too heavily in developing new software due to past experiences of having their programming code duplicated by rival companies. Investment is thus held back due to a lack of effective legal protections. The content of Cambodia’s IPR laws are mostly to international standards though there is scope for greater understanding of how such laws can be applied to the specificities of the ICT sector."
Indeed, the texts of the IP laws themselves are compliant with international standards, the challenge is effective implementation through the judicial and administrative systems. The example cited, of a company simply duplicating the code of a rival, would seem to be a clear-cut case of copyright infringement. Software, or "computer programs", is specifically protected in the Copyright Law (Article 7-L).
In addition to copyright, software developers have the possibility of patenting their invention. According to Rule 44 of the Prakas on the Procedure for the Grant of Patents and Utility Model Certificates, software may be patentable if it relates to:
process inventions, which in whole or in part, consist of steps that are performed by computer and are directed by a computer; or
product inventions consisting of elements of a computer-implemented invention, including in particular:
machine-readable computer program codes stored on a tangible medium such as a floppy disk, computer hard drive or computer memory; and
general purpose computer whose novelty over the prior art arises primarily due to its combination with a specific computer program.
Software developers who choose to patent their invention need to be aware that in the process, they are waiving copyright protection.