Mobile application protection - what is it?


Mobile application protection, what is it? What are mobile applications and what should you pay attention to when choosing them? These are the questions that should be asked before we take full advantage of our smartphone.

Mobile applications mainly support sales processes, but not only. The use of mobile applications has virtually no limitations. They are used when shopping, when operating machines, for monitoring parameters (technological, life, functional), for taking notes, downloading data or creating graphics - applications are everywhere. Even now, while reading this article, you are using a browser, and if you are reading it on your phone, you probably had to additionally download or install a search engine, which is a mobile application.

Since tablets and smartphones have appeared, a lot of work is done on these devices, thanks to which sheets of paper, a desktop computer, and even a laptop are no longer used on the same scale as before. It is much easier for us to settle certain issues on portable devices. Application producers outdo each other by creating new solutions that will make our lives easier. As a result, they create demand for their software. What legal aspects of mobile application development are used on a larger scale?

Legal aspects of creating mobile applications

From the legal point of view, the mobile application is a computer program to which the provisions of copyright law apply. A computer program is protected just like literary works, but the ideas and principles underlying any element of a computer program are not protected.

Art. 74.1 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights of February 4, 1994. Computer programs are protected as literary works, unless the provisions of this chapter provide otherwise.

Protection of mobile applications

The definition contained in the Copyright Act shows that the protection does not cover software, i.e. source code, interface, copies and documentation, brand, name, company, databases, concepts and other elements related to a given application. Thus, the protection of the mobile application does not cover analogically: source code, interface, copies and documentation, etc.

Art. 74 sec. 2 of the Copyright Act

The protection afforded to a computer program covers all forms of its expression. The ideas and principles underlying any element of a computer program, including links, are not protected.

Functional solutions and the interface may be protected by copyright, regardless of the protection granted to the mobile application.

What are mobile applications?

Mobile applications are a set of instructions used on a computer, telephone or other device, thanks to which the intended effect is achieved. The mobile application includes the source code and interface.

Source code - is a record of a mobile program using a specific programming language, describing the operations that the application should perform on the collected or received data.

Interface - the way of the user communicating with the program and the program with the user defined by the author; often referred to as the graphical user interface, or application view.

Contract for the development of a mobile application

When concluding a contract for the development of a mobile application, it should be remembered that it does not guarantee the ordering party protection or the transfer of full rights to the application, if the contract does not contain appropriate provisions.

We distinguish 2 basic ways of constructing contracts for mobile applications:

  1. under a contract of mandate or a contract for specific work

  2. under an employment contract by commissioning a company to develop a given mobile application

In the case of concluding a contract of mandate or a contract for a specific task, the client is certainly interested in acquiring the full copyrights to the application. In this case, it will be necessary to clarify to what extent the author of the code or interface transfers the rights to the buyer - whether there will be full copyrights, copyright to use or copyright together with dependent rights.


The contract for the development of the mobile application must contain clear and precise provisions relating to copyright, the source code and the graphics used in the application interface.

As part of the contract of mandate or contract for specific work, which are concluded directly with the programmer as the author of the application, it is also worth including a statement in the content of the contract that "the application has been made entirely by itself" and that "it has all copyrights to the work".

If the development of a mobile application is outsourced to a company or company that takes on the burden of employing programmers and graphic designers, it is worth checking (if possible) whether their contracts contain a provision on the transfer of copyright and subsidiary rights to the employer. Obtaining consent to develop a computer program is not tantamount to consenting to the use and disposal of the development. The creator of the original work must give additional consent - first for the development of the work, and then for the creation of the derivative work.

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Protection of mobile applications in the context of personal data protection

When developing mobile applications, you also need to pay attention to the relationship between mobile application protection and personal data protection. Mobile application users need to be in control of their data due to the fact that electronic devices on which mobile applications are installed are increasingly personalized devices. In many cases, the use of the mobile application will constitute the provision of electronic services within the meaning of the Act of July 18, 2002 on the provision of electronic services. It is enough that the mobile application allows you to use the services.

Downloading, installing or logging in to the application requires providing personal data, usually name, surname, gender, e-mail address. The application owner must report the collection of such data. As a personal data controller, he has a number of obligations. If the processed data was leaked, it will be held liable by the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection. Polish law provides for 4 types of liability in connection with the violation of the principles of personal data protection:

  1. disciplinary liability - dismissal of an employee responsible for a breach of employee duties obliging him to comply with the regulations and guidelines established in a given company

  2. criminal liability - covers 6 basic types of crimes related to the violation of the principles of personal data protection, which are punishable by a fine or imprisonment. These are:
    a) processing of personal data without consent
    b) disclosing personal data to unauthorized persons
    c) inadequate protection against access, damage or destruction
    d) failure to notify the personal data filing system
    e) failure to fulfill the obligation to inform the data subject about his rights
    f) preventing or obstructing the performance of control activities by an inspector

  3. administrative liability - the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection may impose fines in the event of violations of the provisions on the protection of personal data

  4. civil liability - the data controller may be legally liable for infringement of personal rights

Protection of mobile applications, i.e. - how to protect yourself?

The widespread use of mobile applications is no longer limited to using the default installed programs on devices. Applications are more and more advanced and have enormous possibilities. If the company orders the creation of an application for individual needs, particular attention should be paid to: security, universality (using the same application on different devices), the possibility of external control, the possibility of introducing corrections and improvements. Creating an appropriate mobile application can be very expensive, but it is necessary to optimize and facilitate management in the company, starting from operating machines, through database catalogs, ending with the possibility of viewing cameras or making payments. The possibilities of mobile applications end beyond the limits of our imagination, but the law keeps them in check. Through changing regulations, which cover more and more aspects of m-commerce, we are able to control what they are used for. We create mechanisms that check whether the creators of mobile applications do not exceed contractual limits. Between usefulness and control and dependence on technology there is a small space of freedom, which is guarded by law.

The widespread use of mobile applications in enterprises also means an increase in the number of mobile devices, and therefore a number of challenges related to their management. Organizations should make sure that the selected technical solutions meet at least some of the most fundamental assumptions. In terms of security, the mobile device should meet the requirements for business laptops, including control over installed software, updating the patch system, encryption of access and remote data deletion, which is useful in the event of theft or loss.