In addition to protecting user privacy, companies looking to launch an employee-facing mobile app will need to pay close attention to the intellectual property challenges of developing such an app.
St. Louis intellectual property attorney Bryan Wheelock recently spoke to mobile technology hub Enterprise Mobility Exchange about these challenges and how companies can get ahead of them.
Even if an employee-facing app — also known as an enterprise app — is intended only for internal use, IP lawsuits can still be launched from outside of the company. This is especially true for copyrights, which can cover everything from the app’s code to its content and graphics. If any content or images are procured from third party sources, be sure that the company has the right to use them (typically through purchasing the rights) or that the content is copyright-free.
If an employee contributes to the content of the enterprise app, it is also imperative to have an agreement in place that transfers the right of ownership to the company.
Other sources of IP protection for enterprise apps may include patents and trademarks. “Utility patents can protect the function and features of the app, while design patents can protect the icons and interface of the app,” says Wheelock. “Patents applications must be filed within one year of the disclosure of the app, and should be filed before any disclosure of the app.”
Wheelock also notes that “trademarks and trade dress can protect the name, icon, and other aspects of the user interface.”
There are a myriad of concerns that go into developing a mobile app, and enterprises are encouraged to contact an intellectual property attorney to ensure that their app — and their company — is fully protected.
Read Bryan Wheelock’s blog post, “Eight Simple Rules for Developing Your App.”