Protecting the Intellectual Property of your Apps

June 25th, 2015 by

Man hand using smart phone. World map on phone screen. City as backdrop

As smartphones are now a part of our everyday lives, and each phone can download countless applications (endearingly known as ‘apps’), there is a constant flurry of demand for new, innovative apps. As a result, there is a wave of individuals and corporations stepping forward to take on the challenge. From giving you directions via GPS, to waking you up in the morning, to finding you a potential dating match, one really wonders if these apps are running our lives for us. However, there are some key things to remember when developing new apps.

When developing an app, it must be original in several aspects. For instance, the name of an app can function as a trademark and it must be unique. To ensure an app name is original, one can conduct searches for trademark availability. It is generally advised to avoid having similar names as other apps, especially if their functions are comparable.

However, the name of an app is only just the beginning. All contents of an app should also be original – for instance pictures and videos. Using contents found on the Internet or otherwise not considered rightful property of the app designer could lead to infringement of others’ copyright or trademark rights.

On the flip side, there are also several measures one can take to protect an app from being misappropriated by others. Once a name has been decided upon, it is recommended to have it registered as a trademark so that others cannot take advantage of the reputation associated with it.

While the original source code of your app is protected by copyright law in Canada without the need to register it, registration is available and having a registered copyright may provide additional benefits in the event of a dispute.  While a registration certificate is not conclusive proof of ownership, it can serve as evidence of ownership and is a useful addition to the statutory presumption that copyright subsists in the work and that you are the owner of the copyright.

Copyright serves to deter others from wholesale copying the app, but does nothing to prevent them from adopting concepts in it and expressing those ideas in their own ways.  If your app includes innovative and original functions, you may also consider applying for patent protection prior to the app being released.

For more information regarding this blog post and other intellectual property or trademark related questions, visit our intellectual property law web page.

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