Asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Michigan

Q: How do you know if your app does not copyright other apps? For example, the source code and the graphics?

For example, the function is different but is represented in different shapes, is it still okay? And where do I research the copyrights and patents of other apps, so I don’t get into trouble? Also, does the copyright law and patents issued in United States still apply in China?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: To ensure that your app does not infringe on the copyrights or patents of other apps, it's important to conduct thorough research. For copyrights, especially regarding source code and graphics, ensure that any content you use is original or properly licensed. Avoid using code, images, or design elements that are identical or substantially similar to those in other apps.

For patents, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database to see if there are any patents covering similar functions or technologies as your app. Keep in mind that patents cover the functionality and method of operation, not just the appearance.

If your app's function is different but represented in different shapes, it might not be a copyright issue, but you should still ensure that the representation is original and not a direct copy of another app's design. The uniqueness of your design and code is key in avoiding copyright infringement.

Regarding international laws, the copyright laws and patents issued in the United States do not automatically apply in China. Each country has its own intellectual property laws and enforcement mechanisms. If you plan to release your app in China, it’s advisable to consult with a legal professional knowledgeable in Chinese intellectual property law to ensure compliance.

Remember, intellectual property law can be complex, and each situation is unique. Consulting with a legal professional experienced in intellectual property can provide specific guidance tailored to your app and the markets where you intend to release it.

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