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Charleston man files lawsuit alleging intellectual property theft

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

A lawsuit alleging the theft of intellectual property was filed this week in Charleston County.

In the lawsuit, plaintiff Jim Jones claims that a person he had hired to develop his idea for a smart phone application violated copyright infringement laws.

"He didn't deliver," Jones said.  "I paid him all the money and he has done a couple things, but he's rendered the app that was operable -- inoperable and he's also hidden the code from me.  Essentially, he rendered it inaccessible to me."

Jones' application would allow people to access cab drivers directly through their phone, effectively bypassing a dispatcher.

Ned Snow, associate professor of law at University of South Carolina School of Law, says that intellectual property includes patents, copyrights and trademarks.

"Ideas themselves are not copyrightable; the expression of ideas is copyrightable," Snow said.  "The line between what's the expression and what's the idea -- courts and scholars oftentimes struggle with."

Snow said these types of allegations have become more common to the courts, after the advent of the internet.

"As technology becomes more common, the lawsuits become more common, and that is just a general principle," he said.

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