New Android App


So we are creating a new Android App. We'll have a name for it, and a logo, and the specific functionality of the app is something that hasn't been done before (we searched). The app is going to be released as a free app at first. How do we protect ourselves from someone copying things like the logo, the name of the app, and really all of the functionality?

Going even further, how do we protect ourselves from these things across platform as well, such as someone trying to develop a new app that does the same thing on the web, or even on the iPhone/Blackberry.


Software Copyright Trademark

asked Feb 4 '11 at 04:45
203 points

2 Answers


This is a multifaceted question and so you get a multifaceted answer.

First off, when you wrote the code you automatically had copyright on your code. If you hire someone to create the code the ownership of Intellectual Property should be spelled out in the contract, if not then how ownership is handled will vary from state to state in the US.

Beyond copyright it gets more complicated. For your name, logo, etc you will want a trademark. Technically you can do this on the cheap but it will take months at best, and that is assuming you know exactly what you are doing. Otherwise you will need to hire a trademark lawyer to help you get through that process.

At this point you are safe from someone literally stealing your code or stealing your name/image. If you want to keep someone from recreating your code themselves on another platform and releasing it under a new name, you need a patent and that's about impossible for software. Not impossible, just about. Your software would have to do something truly never seen before, otherwise you'll eventually run into a larger corporation who already has the patent.

I say, start with a strong trademark. Then if you have success, even if someone tries to beat you to another platform you still have the name recognition and will hopefully win out eventually.

answered Feb 4 '11 at 05:47
Justin C
838 points
  • I was thinking kind of the same thing. So best bet from here on out and is to create the software and receive the automatic copyright, get the logo/name trademarked, and just wish for the best (aka, my name holding strong since I was first). How much do trademark lawyers run and what's the easiest way to go about getting one? – Slandau 13 years ago
  • slandau - That varies wildly depending on where you live and how experienced of a lawyer you feel you need. A big part of the process is the back and forth between your side and the USPTO. If your lawyer is handling the back and forth then you are paying their hourly fee, which can have a very wide range. If you have a good lawyer though, they may need less back and forth but may charge more per hour. It could be $1,000 - $5,000 or potentially much more, all depending. I know it's not a definite answer but you won't find many of those with the USPTO. – Justin C 13 years ago


Assuming you are in the U.S. (other countires laws may be different:

  1. Logo- you copyright the logo. And note that in the US a copyright is fairly useless in defending your logo unless you register it with the US Copyright office.
  2. App Name- the only way to protect the App Name is to trademark it. Start on this process right now. It takes a while and you may discover the name can not be trademarked, or already is!
  3. App functionality- you can not protect your app's functionality in the U.S. In the 1996 US Supreme Court decision, Lotus Development Corporation v. Borland International, Inc., the court essentially ruled that an application's user interface and fucntionality can not be copyrighted. Anyone can copy yours as long as they write their own code to do so.
  4. Graphics- (you didn't include this), but once again copyright your graphics and register the copyright.
  5. Program code- copyiright this by registering it with the US copyright office.
answered Feb 4 '11 at 07:33
Gary E
12,510 points
  • Some things here conflict with the user below. Justin C. says to TRADEMARK a name/logo/graphics, whereas you say to copyright logo/graphics and trademark name. Who is right? Also, Justin C. says code is auto copyrighted but users can copy the functionality as long as their don't use my exact implementation. You seem to mention code CAN be copyrighted and registered but people can ALSO copy it??? – Slandau 13 years ago
  • slandau - neither is right or wrong. I would agree with Gary especially if you are starting this venture on a smaller budget. Trademark is the ultimate protection, but sometimes it can be over the top and a simple copyright is sufficient. Always do the copyright, and if you continue to be successful make a point of locking down any potential trademarks later. – Justin C 13 years ago

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