Intellectual Property Rights for Mobile Applications

Mobile applications have become an indispensable part of daily life in the digital world. The mobile app economy has grown exponentially, driven by a vast community of software developers.

Intellectual property (IP) mechanisms help mobile application developers and publishers to generate more income from their creations.

Cover of the WIPO Protecting your Mobile App publication

Protecting Your Mobile App - Intellectual Property Solutions

Mobile apps are multilayered products with different features, protected by various intellectual property (IP) rights.

This publication serves as a guide for app developers and publishers to protect their intellectual property legally.

Download the publication

Infographics on Mobile Apps’ Intellectual Property

Infographic PDF: Top five innovation economies globally, by region and by income group

Mobile App Branding

Infographic: Branding your App: Trademark Basics

Trademark law helps you protect your business from the competition. Here is how you can plan, register and protect the brand associated with your app in 3 steps.

Infographic prepared with the kind assistance of ACT I The App Association.

Mobile App Copyright

Infographic: It Pays to Protect

Copyright Law protects original works of authorship — like mobile apps — by giving creators rights to control online access, reproduction, distribution and adaptations. 


IP Tools for Mobile App Developers

Applications developer working from home
(Photo: monstArrr_ - iStock / Getty Images Plus).

Intellectual Property Toolbox for Mobile App Developers

This toolbox offers practical guidance to app developers and app developer associations, companies developing mobile applications, research hubs, and others. It presents various tools on how to protect all or part of the IP in a mobile app.

Download the Toolbox

Applications developer working from office
(Photo: gilaxia / E+).

The role of IPR in Mobile Apps’ Development and Commercialization

This module explains how intellectual property rights (IPRs) might be used or acquired during each of the life-cycle phases. It follows a hypothetical free-to-play gaming app, one of the most popular categories of mobile app.

Download the Module

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Handbook on Key Contracts for Mobile Apps

This handbook is a practical tool for app developer organizations. It provides a thorough grounding in IP contract basics that is important to understand before consulting specialised IP professionals.

Download the Handbook

woman using a smartphone and laptop at her desk
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Tool on IP Financing for Mobile Apps

This tool addresses the interplay between the typology, existing business models, and IP surrounding mobile apps to guide successful financing strategies. It is targeted at app developers, app developer associations, and companies developing mobile apps.

Download the Tool

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WIPO Guide on ADR for Mobile App Disputes

This guide provides an overview of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes for Mobile Apps disputes. It also addresses the issues relating to the enhanced use of IP in the software sector, focusing on mobile applications.

Download the Guide

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Open Source for Mobile Apps

This tool provides a deeper look at open-source software in mobile apps. Companies may share the burden of developing foundational technologies by using open source code, which is freely available for anyone to use, modify or distribute.

Download the Tool

Applications developer working on code
(Photo: E+ / alvarez).

A Guide to Data Protection in Mobile Applications

The intent of this guide is to help app developers and providers understand their data protection obligations, how to comply with them, and how they may occasionally conflict with their IP rights.

Download the Guide

Learning resources

The five modules below explain how various types of IP interface with the mobile app market and describe the most relevant IP law aspects for app developers and publishers. These modules were developed by Dr. Andres Guadamuz, Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Sussex and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of World Intellectual Property.

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Module 1: Introduction to Intellectual Property

Module 1 provides an introduction to intellectual property law and the framework in which the IP legal principles operate.

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Module 2: Copyright

Module 2 introduces copyright protection in detail, exploring concepts such as subject matter, originality, infringement, and defenses.

Online shopping
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Module 3: Data, Databases and Trade Secrets

Module 3 discusses the relative lack of protection given to data, the lack of international harmonization, and database security.

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Module 4: Trademarks and Designs

Module 4 discusses trademarks and designs, and it will also mention some relevant aspects, such as domain name registration.

Young well dressed entrepreneur is browsing on his mobile phone at the modern office.
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Module 5: Enforcement and licensing

The last module looks at more specific questions surrounding the mobile app market, particularly those surrounding enforcement, licensing, and rights management.


The WIPO Committee on Intellectual Property and Development

The WIPO Committee on Intellectual Property and Development (CDIP) considers the enhanced use of IP by software developers as a topic of particular interest and has launched a specific project to this end.

The project seeks to improve the understanding of the potential of IP for income generation in mobile applications and to empower mobile application developers with tools for using IP in their work.

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Join the WIPO CDIP Forum on IP and Mobile Apps and interact with mobile applications developers and IP experts.

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Scoping Study on the Availability and IP Tools for Mobile Applications

The scoping study identifies IP protection mechanisms for mobile apps in three beneficiary countries: Kenya, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Philippines.

Download the Scoping Study