Startup Law

What intellectual property is created in the development of a web application and is it worth protecting?

So you’re a startup founder who’s just developed a new web application. What intellectual property is created and is it worth protecting?

Elevation Legal’s Sam Wong says, under Australian law the software produced will generally be protected by copyright, provided that it is original and no infringing material has been used in its creation. Additionally, assuming that the web app also contains graphics, photos, videos, music, copyright will exist in those too, provided they are original.

“Note, however, that copyright does not protect the idea; rather it protects the expression of ideas in material form,” Wong says.

“Copyright will not stop a third party from producing a web app with the same or similar functionality to your own app.

“Please also note that if you attend to distribute your web app internationally, different laws may apply in relation to (for example) the subsistence of copyright and exceptions to infringement.”

According to Won, software can also be patentable if it meets the parameters of a ‘patentable invention’. Depending on what the app does, it may be patentable, but legal advice should be sought from a qualified patent attorney to determine the patentability of the web app.

“If you are successful in obtaining a patent, you will obtain exclusive rights to monopolise the product covered by the patent,” Wong says.