Intellectual Property Rights on Mobile Apps

Author: Dev Shroff

There are around 2.87 million apps available for download on the Google Play Store and Apple app store has about 1.96 million apps available. People investing in start-ups or even established businesses create mobile apps for users who can download their app thus making it easier for businesses enhance their monetary or marketing purposes. In a way, these apps have revolutionised the way we work, play, communicate or shop saving time, money, energy and other resources. Suppose you have worked really hard on your mobile app and unfortunately someone has cloned your app before you have launched it and he is now earning a lot while you have gained nothing. What could you have done?

Intellectual Property Rights for Apps and their developers

  1. Patents: 

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. Mobile apps would be considered as software patents as they comprise of a software source code and algorithm. There are some jurisdictions which allow mobile app to be patented. 

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  1. Trademarks: 

A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services. It’s how customers recognize you in the marketplace and distinguish you from your competitors.

The Logo, name, and brand of the mobile application give the Company an identity in the market. The Company should aim at protecting the mobile app by getting the name, logo, and brand registered under the Trademark law.

For example: adding ‘Pro, Plus, Premium, Gold’ after the mobile application can often mislead the customers and tricking them into adding money in a scam. Therefore a well-known app should always have a trademark.

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  1. Copyright:

“Copyright” literally means the right to copy but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work.

Copyright protection provides the owner of the work with exclusive right to reproduce and distribute copies, prepare derivative works, as well as perform or display the work publicly. There are two aspects of copyright protection on mobile app:

  • Copyright on the source code of the software
  • Copyright on the screenshots of the app as a display of artistic work
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Fun Fact: The case of APPLE VS-ZHIZHEN-TECHNOLOGY elaborates on the validity of trademark and copyright infringement.

Mobile apps have become the sole part of business majorly in this rapidly evolving world of technology. The team should be working tight-knit so that the information is not disclosed to the wrong users which can jeopardize the business. Therefore, a Suitable Intellectual Property strategy is required for all kinds of applications be it shopping, gaming, food delivery etc.

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