VIC Creating an App - Intellectual Property Law Protection?

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6 December 2014
I have an idea for a great online mobile app that will go gangbusters once launched.

At present it is currently sketched on paper and at the early stages of creation.

I would like to know a few things from the Law experts on what direction to take and who to speak to .

The main concern is that when I start specifically talking to people about my app idea, particularly at prototype development stage, it can be stolen by someone and then others could create what I believe is a game changing app.
How do I make sure, both domestically and internationally, that I am protected from having my app idea taken and redeveloped?

What is the best way to protect my idea and future creation?
Can/should I register a patent?
Can/should I register a trademark?
Who/what government/private departments can I speak to in relation to getting my app idea protected?

The current research that I am undertaking is IP Australia.

What catagory would an app fall under?
Patent protection - software?

Should I attempt to find an intellectual property law professional for advice? I currently live in Albury/Wodonga on the border of NSW and Victoria.

What other departments of advice can I look at or research to assist myself with these enquiries?

Any and all professional assistance/guidance would be greatly appreciated and not forgotten!

Thankyou in advance!

Tracy B

Well-Known Member
24 December 2014
Hi Jeremy,

IP has a number of protections but each protects a different thing. A trademark protects a "brand". You can apply for a trademark over your company's name, or the game's name, but not the idea itself. Copyright arises naturally and so you do not need to apply for it. However, it protects expression. This means, the way an idea is organised through a medium (e.g. a string of words in a book, a photograph, a montage of shots in a video). It does not protect the idea itself either. A patent is the only thing that will protect an idea. However, it is extremely difficult and costly to get. It also undergoes rigorous evaluation by the patent board. This is because, IP is not aimed at protecting ideas, but the expression of that idea. It has to constantly balance freedom of speech/expression and the reality that certain things must be protected otherwise they will not be made. In short, you will unlikely have your game idea patented.

To stop people from copying your idea or speaking to third parties about it without your consent, people in startups often use a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA). This is a contract that restricts people from doing certain things (e.g. disclosing to third parties, copying the idea) in exchange for you sharing your idea with them and asking them for their input. If they breach the NDA, you may claim damages from them under the contract. But there is no law that keeps ideas off-limits. Essentially, you cannot own an idea.

You can ask a commercial lawyer or IP lawyer to draft the NDA for you, or you can find a sample copy online somewhere. I would recommend the former since the sample copies online tend to be rubbish. A good starting point could be here: Get Connected with the Right Lawyer for You -