February 28, 2017
Everything begins with an idea – Earl Nightingale
Generating an idea to create a new app is a dreadful task. As an app entrepreneur, you not only have to come up with a unique idea but also have to make sure your idea is protected. In a world of uncertainty, your idea can be stolen by anyone who has the slightest hint about it. It can be your rivals, your business consultants or even your most trusted colleagues.
Even major companies like Twitter, Facebook, etc. got into legal trouble regarding the theft of intellectual property. As the mobile app industry continues to grow dramatically with each passing day, every business, startup, and app development company wants to tap it’s true potential.
In such a highly competitive scenario, there is a high risk for your app idea to be stolen. The fact that there are so many clones of one popular app in both Play store and App store proves that one can easily make money by copying someone else’s app idea.
Many app developers were victims of intellectual property theft, and in most cases, it was totally avoidable. You can easily protect your app idea while it is still in the development or even idea stage. So how do you stop people from hogging all your glory? Let’s find out…
1. Use a Non-Disclosure Agreement
Most organizations today use a Non-Disclosure Agreement to prevent IP theft. Developing an app is not one man’s job. You may eventually need to outsource for various purposes. Make sure that everyone who is working on the project signs an NDA before they onboard. NDA ensures the restriction of access of data to third parties and your rivals. It is better to hire a good lawyer to prepare the suitable NDA which fits your requirements.
2. File a provisional patent application
If you feel filing a patent is time-consuming and not worth your money, you can always consider filing a provisional patent application. A provisional patent application protects your idea for a short period (one year). You can use this precious time not only to be more certain of your idea but also to make up your mind regarding the requirement of a full patent for your app idea.
3. Consider Trademarking
Trademarking your app’s icons, logos or even the names of features and services of your app (if you are really that confident) helps to prevent the cloning of your app. With the help of a trademark, others can not create an app which might mimic your app’s name, logo and other characteristics to confuse your potential customers. Though a trademark is not as effective as a patent, it really helps your case if any legal issue arises.
4. Non-Compete Agreement
While an NDA works great, you can always consider getting that extra protection using an NCA or Non-Compete Agreement. With an NCA you can restrict and refrain all the professionals working under you from working with any rival company or on other projects. This agreement really helps in avoiding the leakage of your ideas to third parties. But everything comes with a price.
While the NCA sounds good, you might face a problem in convincing developers to sign it. The contract not only refrains them from working on other projects while they are on yours but also restricts them after they complete your project. This can prove costly to the professional as he/she would be out of work for quite some time.
5. It might be a challenge to get a trustworthy developer who’s willing to sign such an agreement. However with the right compensation and some added motivation, you should be able to pull it off.
In addition to these tips, you can always take some basic precautions such as
We also recommend you to start working on your app as soon as you get the idea as it is extremely difficult to give protection to an idea without any personification. You can start just by typing your basic app code!
There is no straight path when it comes to providing a good legal protection for your app idea. But by taking some smart business decisions and with a bit common sense, you will be good to go.
Feel free to ask any questions. We would love to hear from you! Let us know if you found these tips useful.