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I want to know the actual meaning of infringement and reproduce in web application development. I understand that we can take copyright for the Code base (i.e., Source code) or layout of the website or the static textual / graphical content.

Consider the Company A and Company B in this case, both the companies deal with similar nature of e-commerce business. For instance, Amazon and Flipkart both are dealing with similar e-commerce business and handling customers majorly in web application / Mobile Apps.

In this case Company B has their unique business model when compared with Company A but the business nature is similar (80% of the application structure are same), in this situation can Company A claim Company B has reproduced our business model including our website with some tweaks from our website?

To be more precise:

Software Product A is in the industry for more than 5 years and new software product B is launched now. Both Product A and Product B has same target audience and Market.

In this case, Product A which is copyrighted product claims that Product B has been reproduced / redeveloped with some enhancement from Product A's source code. However, Product B states that it is completely different from Product A and states except the target audience and industry, Product B is completely different from that of Product A.

Additionally, Product A accuses that ex employee and freelancer who worked for Product A has been involved in development of Product B and claims that infringement of copyright have occurred and reproduced a competitor Product B using Product A's source code or Idea, etc.

What is the legality of this accusation? Will this be considered as infringement of copyrights?

If this is considered as infringement then most of the competitors will have common features then how is that interpreted?

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    Business models cannot be copyrighted. Does that answer your question? – Paul Johnson Apr 1 at 20:21
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    Business models are ideas. See Feist v Rural: Those are uncopyrightable and most modern business models are unpatentable as prior art. – Trish Apr 1 at 21:43
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    Re business method patents: I would also recommend looking into Alice v. CLS Bank and its progeny, as it is relevant to cases like this. – Kevin Apr 2 at 0:38
  • @PaulJohnson I agree, Mostly no one will question the Business model If we speak about the web application there is a chance to raise an accusation in terms of copyright infringement and reproduce? How it will affect Company B? – B.Balamanigandan Apr 2 at 3:48
  • @Trish I agree, Mostly no one will question the Business model If we speak about the web application there is a chance to raise an accusation in terms of copyright infringement and reproduce? How it will affect Company B? – B.Balamanigandan Apr 2 at 3:55
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If the source code from site A has been copied into site B without permission then that is a violation of copyright, regardless of any other factors. How serious this is will depend on the extent of the copying.

One wrinkle here is that a small piece of code might be the only way of expressing a particular idea, in which case having the same or similar source code would not be an infringement. For instance you might well expect a customer database to have name, address, account number fields etc, regardless of the application, so the code to work with that database will be much the same whoever writes it, and if A and B have similar (but not identical) customer database code that is not in itself evidence of copying.

If the freelancer who worked on product A has bought some knowledge of general techniques or methods of organising the web site to product B that A considers proprietary and secret, that might be a violation of either trade secret law or a non-disclosure agreement. Depending on the facts and local law this might be liability for B or perhaps just the freelancer. However A would probably have to show that these techniques were not already generally known and were in fact considered as secret and treated accordingly. For a generic web site this is unlikely to be easy for them.

If you are website B and being threatened with legal action by A then you need to speak to a lawyer.

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