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I have created an app for use in mobile phones and I intend to make the app available for sale. From my research, there is no other app that looks like mine that I've heard of, there is an old nintendo 64 minigame that is a LITTLE similar tough. I heard most top apps aren't copyrighted and haven't had any legal trouble.

I am not interested in stopping people from copying my app idea, everyone can copy me, I really don't care about that, but I am really scared that someone sues me for "copying" his/her idea because she/he has a similar idea copyrighted, or that someone patents/copyrights my app as his/hers and claims ownership of it.

Is it necessary to patent a video-game app before sending it to the app store and/or play store?

  • First, drop your "ain't"s. Second, I don't think anyone will come after you at this stage... Once you are really successful -- and even then the chance of them proving that the concept was copied -- there might be a chance for you to get sued. – the_critic Jun 6 '15 at 12:51
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From your question, it is clear you have a misunderstanding between patent and copyright. I suggest you begin by reading this introduction from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A copyright is a form of intellectual property (IP) that is affixed the moment a 'creative act' (writing a story, painting a picture, writing code) is created for the first time. When you created your app, you gained the copyright of your work, even without registering it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Here is a source to read more about copyrights from the USPTO.

A Patent is granted for the exclusive use of a new invention. There is currently a debate whether or not software is patent-able. Read more about patents at the USPTO website.

You can not be sued for 'copyright' infringement on an app unless you used someone's copyrighted material without their consent, including sounds, images, videos, and code.

To fully understand if you are infringing on a patent, you will need a patent attorney to perform a 'non-infringement' search, and provide his/her legal opinion. This can be time consuming for them and costly for you.

  • Software 'methods' are certainly patentable. – JSH Aug 5 '16 at 18:13
  • @JSH which is why I said there is a debate: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent_debate – J. Roibal - BlockchainEng Aug 5 '16 at 22:38
  • @j-roibal Interesting read. If one deletes all instances of the word "software" out of that Wikipedia article, you're left with much of the general arguments expressed by the anti-IP cabal. The Alice case is particularly interesting, however. To be sure, your answer is spot on concerning other topics, but for the moment software methods are patentable, hence holding back an up tick on an otherwise good answer. – JSH Aug 8 '16 at 13:15
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  1. "Getting a copyright" won't stop you from being sued for infringement.
  2. A copyright in many countries (like the US) is automatic - you don't have to do anything for it to be in force. You may, however, have to 'register' it with an agency (like the Library of Congress) to be able to prosecute infringers, but that doesn't seem to apply to your situation.
  3. In many situations, it seems like copyright infringement also involves knowledge of the infringed work - it may be worth looking into that, as that would limit your liability if true.

NOTE: I don't know the law in your country, so the above tips are based on what I've read about US law. However, I also have read that US law is largely in line with European law, etc on the general principles.

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I agree with the_critic's comment. If you just stay under the radar, you'd probably be safe.

Since you don't live in the U.S., life is actually simpler. The worst someone can do is probably taking your app off from App Store in the U.S. It would just be too much trouble for a U.S. company get jurisdiction on you personally.

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