By Bryan K. Wheelock, Principal
St. Louis patent attorney Bryan Wheelock recently penned a new article In App Developer Magazine that discusses four key areas of intellectual property law that can help app developers and coders protect their innovative ideas.
First on the list are utility patents. These patents can protect new and novel apps for a term of twenty years. Obtaining protection in the form of a utility patent can be difficult, warns Wheelock, owing to the Supreme Court’s Alice decision. Apps that are likely pass this test include “apps that do something new, that cause a change in the real world, or that improve the operation of computers,” he says.
Second, design patents protect the appearance of an app’s icon and its graphical user interface. The protection provided by a design patent is more focused than a utility patent, and the term is fifteen years.
Third, trademark protection can apply to the name of an app, the appearance of its icon and the appearance of its graphical user interface. Trademarks offer protection that is similar to design patents, but with some distinctions. A good IP attorney and a savvy app developer will pursue both.
Last, there are copyrights. A copyright will protect the code itself as well as some elements of the pictorial and graphic layout of the app. Copyright protection exists the moment the app is saved in tangible form (when it is saved to a hard drive), but there are additional measures that need to be taken to make the copyright stronger and protectable in infringement hearings.
Perhaps the most important component of an intellectual property portfolio, however, is the strategy that goes into building and maintaining it. A great deal of thought, budgeting and foresight should go into developing an IP strategy that ensures your IP is well protected so that you can get paid.
Please visit our Global IP Services page to learn more about Harness Dickey’s expertise in the different areas of intellectual property law. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about protecting your own growing IP portfolio.