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Do you have an amazing app idea? But worried that your idea can be stolen by your competitors. Start protecting your app idea now, as you can lose your idea in a fraction of seconds in this competitive world.
To survive in this competitive world, you have to be unique! Approximately, there are more than 3700 apps on the play store and more than 800 apps on the App Store are launched every day.
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Every year there are millions of apps being downloaded. Currently, the app development industry is at its peak, and many app developers are working hard to develop some of the next significant apps. If you are an entrepreneur with a brilliant app idea you must not only effectively develop it but also protect the idea from being stolen!
It’s inescapable that more than one entrepreneur will have similar app ideas to meet users’ needs. However, there are steps you can do to secure your app idea during the development process.
Are you ready to learn how to protect an idea for an app? In this article we will cover 7 steps to legally protect your app idea for a business:
I have an idea for an app, now what? How do I protect it? Here are the 7 steps to legally protect your app idea for a business:
1. Copyright Your App
Can you Copyright an Idea?
Yes, getting the copyright is the best way to obtain the legal rights for your mobile application.
For both published and unpublished works, a copyright is a type of protection. It essentially says that you own something. Copyrights apply to artistic content and tangible creations like:
- Software code
- Architectural plans
Legally, just an idea is not protected under copyright laws. However, when you start writing a code for an app, that is something tangible and can be protected.
Keep in mind that copyright differs from a patent. A copyright only protects the way that idea is expressed while a patent protects the idea itself. When your app idea becomes tangible in some way, your copyright will go into effect.
How to Copyright an Idea?
Make sure you have all the necessary documentation to back up any claims of intellectual property. Take note of the start dates and timings of the app, the source code, and any other crucial phases of development.
You might have to collaborate with developers or development partners who have more experience creating apps than you have. In this situation, you must make sure that your contract explicitly indicates that you are the code’s owner. If not, the developer may claim ownership of the code and utilize your app idea.
When beginning the development stages of your app idea, keep in mind that it typically takes approx. 3 months to properly register copyright.
2. Sign an NDA to Protect Ideas
One of the most popular ways to protect intellectual property, including a developed app or an app idea, is to sign a non-disclosure agreement, also known as an NDA. It’s a contract between you and the development services company that declares all information shared while working on a project is private and cannot be disclosed to any third party.
Your vision must be freely expressed to any developer to receive the greatest results. Your vision probably won’t be effectively expressed if you’re worried about losing your idea.
An NDA is a legal agreement that guarantees the security of any information communicated between two parties. Hence, after signing an NDA you can freely explain your idea to the developer or development partner and achieve your desired goal.
Any professional team usually doesn’t have any problem signing NDA. And the most important thing is that a professional development company is entirely aware of all the consequences this agreement entails.
3. Reserve the Name of Your App
Is it Possible to Reserve the App Name? How Can We Reserve it?
Unlike iOS, Google doesn’t allow developers to reserve names for apps. However, the good news is that it is possible to have multiple apps with the same name, which is great if you have an idea and are worried that someone else might have already used your name.
How to Reserve an App Name in the iOS App Store?
First and foremost go to the App Store to make sure nobody else has the same name. For the App Store, you can reserve the name in advance, so that nobody can copy your app’s name.
To reserve the name in the App Store, follow the below steps:
- Enter your account information at itunesconnect.apple.com and log in.
- Open the “My Apps” section, which is located in the top right corner.
- select “add a new app.”
- Enter all of your app’s information. Please keep in mind that you need an app bundle to finish this step.
- To reserve the name of your app, click “create.”
- Once the app has been created, you can upload the whole app bundle from Xcode.
You can launch your app without any worries on the App Store by following the above steps. Furthermore, no one will be able to steal the idea behind your app.
The process to reserve an app name is free and there is no time limit on how long you may reserve the name, as long as you don’t violate any of Apple’s guidelines.
How to Reserve an App Name in Android Google Play?
As for Android, things are simpler. You don’t have to reserve an app name in Google Play as you can have multiple apps with the same name.
Technically Google Play allows developers to reserve the exact name as one that already exists but with a different app’s package name.
But here we would suggest you use a unique name for the app, if you use the same name as your competitors or other companies use, it will create confusion among users and your entire development & marketing efforts will fail.
4. Take Trademark of the App
Trademarking an app, logo, and brand will become valuable once the app is launched.
By registering the trademark you can prevent other developers and entrepreneurs from using your app’s name, icons, and logo. In addition to this, your app’s features and functionalities can also be trademarked.
Looking at popular apps like Angry Birds, Instagram, Candy Crush, and others, we can see that their brand recognition is superbly amazing. These famous apps can be identified just by seeing their font, colors, logo, etc.
The benefit of trademarking the app is that your competitors or other entrepreneurs can’t attract your potential customers by creating a similar logo, brand, and design.
How to Trademark an App Idea?
Steps to register a trademark for your app idea:
-File your trademark application.
-Be clear on the specification of goods and services covered by your application.
-Submit all necessary documents at the time of filing.
-After submitting the documents, the patent and trademark office reviews them.
The entire registration process for a trademark takes approx. 8-10 months. Also, the Patent & trademark office will take 3-4 months to initially review your trademark application after it is submitted.
Please note that entrepreneurs and developers can copy the features and functionality of your app with different names and logos. In such a case, it is not a trademark infringement.
5. Patent an App or Software
Applying for a patent at the appropriate time and with the relevant information about your unique app can help you protect your intellectual property.
The need for protecting your intellectual property is increasing in this competitive universe of mobile apps. App developers may wonder when and how to patent software ideas.
Whenever you come up with a new idea, the first question comes to your mind is, what’s new in it, and is it unique? If your app is unique and is different from the apps in the market with distinctive features and functionalities, then it can be patented.
Patents provide more protection than copyright because of their stringent guidelines. But patents take 2-3 years for issuing app patents and it is costly too. To overcome this you can apply for a provisional patent that will cover your app idea for a year. If your app idea doesn’t work out, you still have time to improve things in the provisional patent.
6. Choose the Trustworthy Partner
Can app developers or development companies steal your app idea? The answer is, yes. If the developers or the development company are unprofessional & dishonest they can steal your idea. So, how to protect your idea for an app? You can protect it by selecting a trustworthy partner and by signing an NDA which we discussed earlier.
Here, are the key points you should consider while selecting one of the best app development companies to outsource to:
- Experience: Firstly, know their experience in this industry. Also, to know more about their work, look through their portfolio.
- Establishment: Check their established year. The older the company is, they will have more experience in the industry and will be more professional.
- Client Testimonials: You can check the client’s testimonials on their website, social media platforms, and on websites like Clutch, GoodFirm, etc. By checking the testimonials you will come to know what quality of work the development company delivers to its clients.
By verifying the above details, you can be sure that the team you’re planning to hire is trustworthy and won’t suddenly disappear with your app idea.
7. Create a Comprehensive Documentation
You should create comprehensive documentation enlisting all the things of your app from the ideation to the launch. All the documentation should be in written form.
The documentation covers various things like the app’s code, brainstorming sessions, minutes of meetings conducted virtually or in-person with your development team, blueprints, the design draft, etc. Nothing should be incorrect, not even the smallest detail that is significant to your app.
For example, you should have a record of all the conversions like emails, voice calls, etc. you had with the developer or the development company you are working with. These records will work as evidence for you if any of the information or data is leaked.
Do you know what an app clone is?
The term “app clone” generally describes the process of adopting an idea from another website or app that is distinctive and unique, and copying it to make another app. Cloning an app involves adopting some of its concepts and incorporating your distinctive features to produce a brand-new version that isn’t an identical replica of the original. These days, app cloning is highly popular, and many app development firms have copied well-known app scripts like Uber, Ola, Lyft, etc., and added their fresh features to make app clones.
Do you want to develop an app?
So, the first thing you should do is to protect an app idea
before sharing an idea with the developer or development company. Because cloning an app is legal. If you do not save your idea following the above steps, the other companies and developers will copy your idea and launch without adding any new features and you will not be able to take any legal actions.
Is app cloning legal?
The answer is yes, until and unless you do not violate any already-existing business intellectual property, copyright, patents, or trademarks.
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Don’t let the fear of your competitors stealing the idea of your app keep you up at night. Follow the above steps and you are good to go and have a sound sleep.
As an entrepreneur, you would never want anyone to steal your app idea and start making money out of it. For this reason, protecting your app idea is essential.
Moreover, it is also important that you choose a trustworthy and reliable software development company that won’t hesitate to sign an NDA.
Protect and implement your idea quickly in the market before anyone else does.
Are you in search of a reliable and trustworthy software development company? We are here to provide best Custom Mobile App Development Services and protect your app idea.
Q1: How to protect an idea without a patent?
Patents are expensive and it takes years to be issued. Startups can’t afford to invest much time in patenting an idea.
Inventions in science and technology are eligible for patent protection under the US Constitution. When innovation is protected by a patent, the inventor is given a temporary right to prevent others from creating, using, or selling your invention idea. But what if you have a great idea but do not have time and money to patent it? Fortunately, there are alternative ways to safeguard ideas and innovations, such as by keeping information a trade secret.
Q2: I have an App Idea Where Do I Start?
If you have an app idea, do some research to see if it is worthwhile and a brand-new invention in the market. If the answer is yes, you should immediately safeguard your app idea from being stolen. After protecting your idea you can start developing it.
Q3. What Should I Do If My Developer or the Development Company I Hired Steals the Code?
Gather all the necessary evidence or documents (which we discussed in point 7) to show that the idea is truly yours. The next step is to request the offending party to stop using your code. If this does not work you will need to file a lawsuit.