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Becoming an App ‘Inventor’

jon_g profile image Jon G ・3 min read

Software development is easier than ever to get into with an assortment of platforms, languages, and operating systems to develop for. While some may not see it this way, but developing unique software is akin to being an inventor.

Software apps are programs designed to run on certain operating systems (whether mobile or desktop), so the same can be said of them as of any other computer application. However, the truth is that the environments in which they are developed have some peculiar characteristics as far as legal aspects are concerned and the developers of these programs have to take them into account.

In the subsequent sections, I will try to shed some light on the main legal issues affecting these applications.

Branding an Application

Any developer seeking to brand and sell their invention for commercial purposes faces a common dilemma: to choose a brand name for their company/app.

An actionable/descriptive name may be more desirable for SEO as users can search for the task they need to accomplish and stumble upon your app in the market. Although, if competition currently exists, it would be harder to be distinguishable from other apps. Using a made-up fantasy name could be a desirable option in that case.

Of course, if the application is destined to be successful, it is undoubtedly better to have chosen the second of the options described and, before launching the application on the market, also proceed to register the name as a trademark and, eventually, the domain names that are linked to the trademark.

In either case, we should try to stay away from names that have applications that perform the same function, especially if these names are registered as a trademark. In the case you are registering a trademark in the United States, be sure to search through the USPTO trademark database to see if anyone has already taken the name.

But along with the name of the application, we must also take care of the name with which the developer is going to identify himself in the app market. We must take into account that once a user tries out an application and likes it, he will usually try to find more applications from the same creator. Choosing an attractive and original name will undoubtedly help popularize your creations.

And to protect those names, you should register the term that identifies the application as a trademark, while the name to identify the developer should be registered as a trade name.

App Protection

One of the questions that generates many doubts among application developers is how to protect their invention. What we are talking about when we "protect" a work is being able to prove that on a certain date no one other than the author claimed to have created it.

Having a patent for software protects things like systems, functions, or solutions used within your creation. You can go for two types of patents for software: Utility to what the software does, or Design to protect the unique UI/UX of the front-end.

In any case, in order to obtain this "protection" it is possible to resort to different ways. One of them is to proceed to register or register the work in the Intellectual Property Registry, where there is a specific form for computer programs.

Another could be to use some of the resources analogous to the physical registry that exists on the Internet, such as Safe Creative or Myfreecopyright and, depending on how we intend to license the program, initiatives such as Creative Commons or, or if you are from a Spanish-speaking nation, COLORIURIS could also be used.

And there are more possibilities, such as depositing the work before a notary or even sending it by certified mail to yourself and keeping the sealed envelope received unopened. In short, there are many ways we could prove before a court that we are the author of the application before the date that the eventual usurper defends.

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