A couple of days ago, an acquaintance of mine asked for help with an application for his non-profit company. This application was already done previously by people who the client hired previously. He mistakenly hasn't put down a plan to pay them. So they decided to monetize it their own way. They asked him to pay for a set monthly fee as well as some other costs that honestly seem ridiculous to me.

I looked at his requierements and set a price for a bunch of user stories which I will run by him later this week to see if he agrees. After the initial deployement I plan on maintaining the application for an hourly fee.

So far, he seemed to be content with both the price I proposed the first time we talked about the application and the maintaining fee. The problem is, that he sent me screenshots, basically detailing every single aspect and functionality of the application that was previously created for him.

Therefore I have a question. Is it legal for me to basically create a 1 for 1 carbon copy of something that other people have already created and "sell" it for a lower price?

P.s. I am also sceptical of the whole debacle that he had with his previous "employees". That's why I am determined to put everything in writing as to prevent any misunderstandings from happening.

  • Does it have economic sense? Does the product/idea have copyright? If they are smart to do monetization and it is even cheaper. What are the chances he will get any benefit from the app? Feb 28, 2019 at 7:32
  • I don't think the developed product has any copyright. It is a very generic company managing dashboard with a couple of specific and unique features which are required by my client's non-profit company. The app is medium sized and can be done in less than 100 hours. This means that the scope is relatively small and the economic value is easy to grasp for both me and the client. He basically wants a web-app version of an excel sheet that they currently use. I'm just concerned about making the exact copy with different colours might be a problem.
    – P_Andre
    Feb 28, 2019 at 8:20
  • As the previous app was developed by the developers that the client previously hired, but failed to compose a business plan or contract. Therefore getting screwed over by the demands set forth by the developers after the app had been developed.
    – P_Andre
    Feb 28, 2019 at 8:21
  • I mean for your client. Does he build the app for any type monetization later? Feb 28, 2019 at 11:05
  • I must say that your inquiry or description is very hard to grasp: "put down a plan to pay them", "monetize it their own way", "seem ridiculous to me" (ridiculous because the amount was too low? or too high?); what "debacle" are you talking about? or what is its relevance to your inquiry? Only at the 3rd paragraph I sensed that by "application" you mean "software program" rather than "application for employment". Feb 28, 2019 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


The code and the “look” of the user interface is protected by copyright - you can’t duplicate either.

You can create your own app with the same functionality.

  • "Look and Feel" is getting more complex. You might be basing your answer on Lotus v Borland, but lots of happened since then and it's probably a case-by-case thing. computerlaw.com/Articles/…
    – mark b
    Mar 1, 2019 at 16:42

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