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Case Study 05 – Importance of specifying copyright ownership in employment contracts (Indonesia)


A database formula which calculated land use in the mining industry was jointly developed by staff of a European structural engineering company based in Indonesia and one of its former employees. However, the former employee in question registered copyright of the database formula after it had been jointly developed and put to first use by the European company.

Action Taken

The engineering company applied for the cancellation of the copyright registration of the database formula to a Commercial Court.


The court found that the database formula was jointly developed by staff of the European engineering company and the former employee in question.

Based on this fact, the Commercial Court ordered the cancellation of the copyright registration for the database formula, and declared the engineering company to be the copyright owner. In allowing the company’s request to cancel the copyright registration, the court also rejected the former employee's counterclaim for copyright infringement on the same matter.

Lessons Learned

  • Although protection can still occur without it, the practice of registering copyright is common in Indonesia, as local businesses and entrepreneurs often see it as the State's ‘endorsement’ of their IP. It can however be abused as this case study demonstrates.
  • Businesses should always specify IP ownership in advance for any new product or new knowledge created in the work place, in order to avoid any possible future dispute.
  • All employment or engagement contracts should specify ownership of the copyright of any work product created by employees.