Mobile applications are software running on mobile hardware and interacting with various servers. Since the popularity of mobile content overtakes Web content, the mobile app comes out as a lucrative business in the digital market. If we go by the figures, there are approximately 3 million mobile apps worldwide at this point and the figure has been increasing as we speak. Mobile applications have become an indispensable part of our daily lives and mobile app economy has grown in a drastic way.
This article tends to address the lack of consideration given to app developers and publishers in reference to their work in mobile apps. It has become the need of the hour to generate additional income streams for creators and right holders through the channel of Intellectual Property Rights in mobile apps. Thoughtful management of one’s IP portfolio is a sound business practice, and one should start as early as possible for an app.
Mobile apps are considered to be multilayered products which have different features. All such features invite a host of IP rights. Protections of IP in Mobile Apps have multifaceted benefits which can be studied below.
Benefits of Protection of IP rights for Mobile Apps
Among the various benefits of protection of IP rights for Mobile apps, one proves to be the most important for a mobile app creator, which is protecting the mobile app against infringement by others. This also gives the creator a sole right to ultimately defend the claim in the courts to use, make or sell it.
The creator/author of the work gains a number of exclusive rights, which are enjoyed by him to the exclusion of all others. As a result, when someone tries to carry out an act that falls within the ambit of one of the exclusive rights without authorization from the rights holder, there can be an occurrence of prima facie liability of IP infringement.
Exclusive rights relating to various IP include in its ambit the right of reproduction or copying, right of adaptation (which refers to derivative works) and the right of making it available to the public (which refers to distribution).
The right of reproduction includes the right to make a copy of the whole work or part of the work in question. Similarly, the right of adaptation coincides with the idea of right to make a derivation from the work in question. In the same way, right of making available to the public includes the right to make the work available over the internet in a way that public can easily access the same from their chosen time and place.
The author(s) of the work or developers can earn royalties by way of licensing their IP. The license does not give any right to the licensee to sell it or do anything which is beyond the scope of the Agreement between the Licensor and Licensee. The Licensor or developer/author of the work has all the rights to the application and can stop others from using, making, or selling it without their permission. For Ex: Microsoft specifies that a developer does not transfer ownership of any app to the company but does grant to Microsoft, as its agent or commissionaire, the right to host, install, use, reproduce, publicly perform and display via any digital transmission technology, format, make available to customers for the purposes of fulfilling Microsoft’s obligations under its app developer agreement.
As a concluding statement, it is necessary to acknowledge the fact that various intellectual property rights may protect aspects of a mobile app. The extent to which the protection is available solely depends on the elements of the mobile app in question, and on the jurisdiction involved.
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