So every day we have people that contact us and they have an idea for a new mobile app.
One of the very first questions they usually ask is:
“How do I protect my mobile app idea?”
The extremity of this varies, with most people asking us to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Thats good, we have them ready and raring to go.
Others think that they want to purse some sort of patent protection to prevent people from stealing their ideas.
Once in a while we hear about someone who went to a “developer” that they suspect stole their idea, however there should be pretty obvious evidence of this. I have only really heard of one situation that this was plausible. Honestly it seems crazy, even suicidal to me if you are an agency, design firm or development shop and you steal. Generally this does not happen.
As I would tell any new client, I wouldn’t be in business very long if I stole people’s ideas and built them myself.
So that is all fine, we will gladly sign non disclosures and we ethically wouldn’t steal ideas. We are in the business of ideas2apps: helping people build apps, not stealing them.
But I digress.
OK so, what is the best way to protect your app idea? Here are the four tips that I have for anyone in the idea stage. First off, I am NOT a lawyer. So consult a lawyer. I think I need to say that. I’m only telling you what I’ve learned from my experience and what I understand are your best protections. But don’t take my word for it talk to a lawyer about options. That sort of consultation can be done over the phone and for free. Alright here they are top ways I know of to protect your app Intellectual Property rights:
Finally the bonus #5 tip is this. The best protection is SUCCESS. Its not a legal protection of your IP, but if you have a brand that people know and app that people use, that in itself is a barrier to entry. If your app is visible in the app store and on people’s devices- others will be intimidated.
Competition exists, it just does– I am of the opinion that you shouldn’t just turn tail and run. Maybe you end up being the 2nd best or 3rd best app in a category. In my mind the opportunity is not diminished. For one thing users “get” the concept of the app. Especially in the app game. Users have an appetite for new stuff and quality apps. Apps can be disposable.
The average user has something like 64 apps on their device. Its not a major investment typically. So don’t get all freaked out by competition- but know… most others DO get freaked out by a winner. If you have success and are tops in a category, potential competitors every day turn away. Now that is NOT You and I. We see opporutnity to be “in” the game right? For others?
They will get discouraged before they ever start. They will see your success and give up. They won’t try to build in your category. So success is an effective protection. That means get the thing built, on the app store and on people’s devices. Just don’t allow yourself to wilt when you see someone else has the same or a similar idea.