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I want to produce a much simpler web app inspired by a more complex web app, with some additional features of my own. The original web app was inspired by a process in general knowledge.

From this page, I see that:

My own web app's

"work is considered original – and thus protected by copyright – if you use your skill, labour, judgement and effort to create it. Using another’s work is copyright infringement when ‘the work as a whole or any substantial part of it’ has been copied."

I understand that

The meaning of ‘substantial’ changes is defined on a case-by-case basis.

Given the original app's central process is inspired by general knowledge, and I am using a much simpler version or process than the original web app and adding my own features, would my own web app break copyright?

Help appreciated.

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The idea for an app is not subject to copyright.

Only the artifacts of the app itself (sourcecode, images, texts, sounds, etc.) can be. So if one only copies the idea and creates their own version of all the other assets, then they are not violating copyright.

However, in some cases, ideas can be subject to patents. But patents on software are tricky. First of all, only new ideas can be patented. When a supposed new idea was already published before, then that's called "prior art" and you can not patent it. Then getting a patent means a lot of investment in money and time (which is very different from copyright which you get automatically the moment you make something copyright-worthy). So not everything that could theoretically be patented gets patented. And then, many jurisdictions do not recognize software patents at all, and those which do have different limits on what is and is not patentable when it comes to software. This means patents are rarely a concern when copying the app idea of someone else, but not never.

And another possible concern is the third pillar of intellectual property: Trademarks. This protects the name of the app. Trademark law oversimplified forbids to create a competing product with a name which might confuse customers. So if you created StevesSuperCoolAppForCoolPeople and I create StevesSuperCoolAppForCoolPeople - Simplified Edition, then I would be violating your trademark, because my product name sounds as if it was your product, when it is in fact an unrelated product with a similar purpose.

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