No. 20

How Can I Protect the Intellectual Property of My APP?

Since the launch of the Apple iPhone and the subsequent AppStore in 2008, the use of mainstream mobile apps has grown across the world. So much so that it’s becoming more and more common for companies to create their own APP to give them a direct connection between them and their intended user.

But what about your intellectual property rights when it comes to these? Is it even possible to protect these assets and if so how can companies do it?

Wendy Crosby provides some basic steps that you should follow that will help to ensure these rights are protected.

IP of my APP

Ensure the Copyright and Design Rights of your APP are owned by the Company

An APP is essentially a software programme and any original source code in the programme will be automatically protected by copyright as a literary work. Copyright does not prevent others from designing their own APPs to perform the same function, but it can be used to prevent direct copying of the programme behind the APP.

Copyright in the APP will initially belong to the programme developer or software house that employs the programme developer unless it is transferred by a written contract signed by the developer/software house and the company.

If a new business is being established between a team of individuals and one of the team is responsible for writing the source code, any copyright will belong to that individual team member unless and until there is a written agreement transferring a share of ownership of the copyright to other members of the team, or it is transferred into the new business.

A written agreement should also be in place to cover any outsourced design work, such as designing a logo for the APP.

Register Your Trademarks

Take appropriate steps to protect the name and also the logo of the APP that will appear on the smartphone or tablet screen so as to deter competitors from developing their own APPs using the same or very similar name and logo. Character names in games should also be considered for protection.

Trademarks can become very valuable over time and especially so the more successful your APP becomes.

Register Your Designs

Consider also protecting any graphical aspects of your APPs including backgrounds, icons and Graphical User Interfaces. This provides a further layer of protection for the visual appearance of elements of the APP.

Use Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA)

NDAs are legal contracts between parties that want to share information in a controlled way.

Having an NDA allows you to discuss the APP with another party, but restricts their ability to pass on the information to third parties. This can enable you to speak to developers or companies that may be interested in helping in the development of your APP, whilst providing a legal means of redress should they disclose the information without your consent.

Document Your Work

Keep detailed records of the development of the APP. This helps not only to provide a chain of evidence should you have to take action against someone who copies your APP, but also helps to establish the timeline and history of the development of your APP should you be accused of copying someone else’s.

Get In Touch!

If you have any further questions or would like to protect your companies APPs, please contact Wendy Crosby.

Wendy Crosby
Director, Patents

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