Before I go on, I have to disclaim that I stole this line from Richard Stobbe from Brownlee LLP, an attorney who gave a very entertaining talk about laws governing iPhone apps. And no, I don’t want to get sued. His presentation was about iPhone apps and the laws governing developers and end-users. So what is protectable? What are we talking about when we speak about IP?
Features on an iPhone like industrial design, trade-marks, copyright and trade secrets are all part of the laws that govern and protect companies, individuals, Apple and such. Copyright for example only protects something that is an expression of the idea, not the idea itself. It also has a lifespan of 50 years after the author’s death.
What is protectable?
Ideas, concepts that are eligible for protection but they have to be expressed and original and it has to be used commercially.Not Protectable? Ideas, concepts and general knowledge as it is, content in public domain and facts like math, science etc.
What are developers liable for? Intellectual property infringement and open source. In the agreement between Apple and the developer there is an end user agreement. But there are no is no protection for developers. But against the end user there are certain end-user protections. You also have a limitation of liability of $50 for end user. Richard used examples of case studies of ongoing and past law suits describing situations that warranted a lawsuit. An interesting case going to pretrial in Dec has to do with a photographer who is suing Apple for failing to notice that their iPhone app stole his image. If you’d like to see this case study yor the other ones Richard mentioned, you can go to applaw.ca.