How to Protect UX Design Elements from Theft

IP theft is a real concern for hard-core coders in web design, learn how to protect UX design elements from theft in this post.

How to Protect UX Design Elements from Theft

Image Source: Pexels


Intellectual property theft and misuse is a real concern of the UX design space.

Designers put massive amounts of time, talent, and effort into creating a successful element, but without the proper protections, that work may be used against your intentions. 


To better protect UX design elements, designers must be aware of the dangers as well as the protections available to them. You may not be able to specifically trademark an idea, but GUI design patents are the next best thing. Explore these risks and protections as you strengthen your successful UX design. 

This post will go over how to protect UX design elements, but before we do, let’s talk about some of the inherent risks associated with UX design.

Risks associated with UX

When it comes to user experience, the risks aren’t quite the same as other cyber threats. The nature of these threats impacts your ability to compete more than your ability to do business in general, as malware attacks might do. That’s because UX design is essential to SEO success. Meanwhile, a strong brand reputation and identity are impacted in no small part by UX. An otherwise successful UX design can be damaged by a faulty element or a compromised one. 


First, focus on the threats posed to SEO from poorly protected design elements. Appearances are essential when it comes to SEO success. A misused color, font, or image can impact a site’s usability, navigability, and even load times. Protection of these elements begins with their optimization for a competitive digital environment. Aesthetics should never damage Core Web Vitals, Google’s metrics for judging UX quality. If Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which is the amount a site’s content moves when loading, is impacted negatively by UX elements, then your traffic may suffer.


Meanwhile, the value of your designs, their recognizability, and your ability to control your brand identity, in general, can be negatively affected by stolen intellectual property. This problem is prolific in the design sector, with artists like Von Glitschka frequently finding their designs where they don’t belong. The scale of the internet makes it exceptionally difficult to monitor the theft of digital assets and catch every instance of misappropriated resources. That’s why protections are essential for UX elements.


How can designers go about securing their intellectual property? If the size of the internet in the global market makes monitoring element use difficult, how can these threats be combatted? 


The answers lie in the protections available to UX designers — protections that can contribute to a successful user experience. 

How to Protect UX Design Elements

Intellectual property theft accounts for losses as high as $600 billion in the U.S. for a given year, including the cost of legal actions that typically follow such a theft. Businesses and individuals must be cognizant of IP laws where UX is concerned to avoid these challenges. One of the key steps in this process is to evaluate the legal and tech processes that can get you to a more secure UX. 


You can protect each element of your UX design through the right process. These are just a few of the protections you can implement throughout development:


1. Core Web Vitals

Google’s metrics for content quality are as important to your UX elements as they are to every other design choice. That’s because these metrics can make or break your visibility to search engine crawlers. Protecting UX success starts with evaluating these factors for success, streamlining them where possible for greater impact. This is necessary for combatting intellectual property theft, as well, since it’s easier to prove your ownership of content if your page is visible. 


2. Accessibility Standards

Similarly, accessibility standards will impact your UX success both in terms of SEO and brand reputation. Implementing these standards in every UX element is necessary for a platform that promotes and protects quality content. Follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 for the latest standards on improving visibility and protecting the inclusivity of your digital platforms.


3. Copyrights

The first tool in your legal IP protection toolkit is copyright law. This protection makes it illegal for others to copy creative works without the proper licensing. From text content to videos and infographics, copyright technically goes into effect the moment content is published. However, you’ll still want to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office for a record of these protections. 


4. Trademarks

Next consider trademarks for added legal protection of your brand, logo, and assets. A trademark protects a symbol of brand identity and can cover even digital assets. These marks make it easy to identify the source of content, and so should be used wherever particularly relevant to branding in terms of UX. Trademarks, like design patents, can be applied for through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office


5. Design Patents

Your final and perhaps most important UX protection comes in the form of design patents. These legally recognized items allow designers to capture a 2D representation of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) as a means of restricting its use to a brand. For a patent to be accepted, however, it has to be original, innovative, and non-obvious. Submit a patent application only for your most creative and successful UX designs. Then, be prepared to wait as long as 14 months for the patent to travel through the necessary approval process. 


These protections all aid designers in securing the value and quality of their work. From simple SEO and accessibility provisions to legal tools, implementing these IP security standards make for a better and more visible brand. With their help, secure your UX intellectual property for long-term brand recognition and success.

Securing UX intellectual property

Every designer wants to be able to take credit for their work and uniquely reap the rewards of their success. UX design protections range from SEO to IP considerations. Successful UX impacts usability just as much as it does brand identity, so implementing these guardrails is a must for visibility in the competitive digital economy. 


Fortunately, the protections laid out here make it easier to protect UX design assets. Evaluate the risks unprotected UX designs pose to your SEO and asset value. Then, use these protections for a more secure brand identity. A successful, protected user experience will result.