Having an excellent idea embezzled is a nightmare for all entrepreneurs. Startuppers fear that their partners will steal their innovation and deploy the business on their own. Unfortunately, the reality is that without a well-considered strategy, someone can clone your app idea and launch it earlier, thus, taking a significant part of your potential customers.
If you want to know how to protect your project idea from being usurped, continue reading this post, where I will talk about best practices and tips to defend your business from copying, along with real cases of ideas being stolen.
Ways to Protect Your App Idea From Malicious Acts
Firstly, you need to decide what exactly you want to protect: ready-to-use software, product concept, technology, etc. And figure out the development phase you’re in for now: you have just an idea, prototype, or full-fledged software.
Secondly, you need to control the number of people involved in the project. If you’re at the stage of looking for a partner for your idea, you can employ a gentlemen’s agreement, considering all the project’s information with your future team. Such an agreement is a good way to secure your app from being duplicated at the early stages. It’s a verbal commitment of the details when partners agree not to hand the information to third parties.
Thirdly, you can protect your software project by signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Some parties undervalue its importance, yet it’s a great preventive measure to secure your intellectual property. This document describes how the project’s data can’t be shared, who is in charge of information security, how this information can be used, and other terms of the arrangement. Along with NDA, keep in mind that only a small group of people should be aware of the project’s details. Otherwise there is a risk of information leaks.
When Is It Time to Sign an NDA?
Signing an NDA software development agreement is vital when you cooperate with off-side developers. It will allow you to protect your app idea before it’s released and prevent unauthorized use after the application is released.
The document also guarantees that in case of violations of the terms, the hired team cannot continue building the app or applying the idea that makes the basis of the application. Here are the core benefits of signing an NDA:
- Keeps your startup idea private.
- Protects your author rights on the product and its concept in case of data leakage.
- Holds the rights on the product after it’s launched in case of dealing with off-side vendors.
- You stay an owner of the project even if you cease cooperation with an off-side hired company.
- Protects your platform in the development phase and after it has been released.
However, a non-disclosure agreement for software development can bring some difficulties on the fundraising stage. So there should be a balance of significance. On the one hand, there is some risk in sharing product ideas with stakeholders. But, on the other hand, you won’t get investments if you refuse to raise the curtain on a project before NDA signing.
As an option, you can discuss the general project’s concept, the domains it will be applied to, and technologies used during the development stage. You can share more information after the contract has been signed.
Real-life Examples of App Being Copied
Over 150 000 thousand applications were rejected by the App Store because they were copied. Reproductions bring real damage to companies and steal a tidbit of customers, which results in lower incomes. Let’s look at the popular app ideas that were duplicated:
- Yo messenger software engineers were amazed to know that clone application Yolo steals a significant part of their users.
- Flappy Bird is a bright example of how your app idea can be rudely stolen. Third of all games released on the Apple Store and Google Play are the Flappy Bird’s copies. This game inspired hundreds of developers to build similar products. What’s crazy, after the creator deleted the original game, the copies increased in popularity.
- Uber. Who hasn’t heard of this application? The Uber business model is attractive due to its convenience — you don’t need to deploy production, rent a workspace, or buy goods. The platform serves as an intermediary between consumers and service providers. So no wonder that this application was reproduced thousand times and was applied to different industries, including food delivery and medical consulting. However, when searching for information on how to design an app like Uber, remember that there is no sense in creating the same project if there’s another well-used one. The right way is to compare your idea to existing projects to decide how unique your product will be.
It was tough for those platform owners to prove the fact that their project ideas were cloned. Thus, in such a situation, before accusing anyone, ensure that theft has occurred. There is a thick line between duplication and inspiration. So, before making a complaint, you need to define if your project was copied or was used to get inspired. If the second theory takes place, it will be challenging to defend your copyright. Moreover, you have to determine how your idea was copied (name, screenshots, code lines. etc.) This data will be substantial if you have your trademark registered.
Tips to Protect Your Project Idea
Use these additional working clues to protect your idea for an application or website.
- Protect yourself with a trademark. It enables you to restrict your competitors from using symbols, logos, or phrases associated with your organization. Besides, all the product’s features and functionality can be registered by the trademark’s name. Though it’s quite a time-consuming option, it’s a great way to protect you from firms that want to copy your project’s vision. A trademark will also allow you to cope with legal issues.
- Choose a reliable software development company. Before selecting a vendor you’re going to work with, you need to collect information about this company to make a considered decision. For instance, you can go to the website Clutch and read the client’s reviews. Reputable IT companies always post such information. The cooperation with a professional software development agency will guarantee the app’s idea privacy.
- Install Google Alerts for an application. Setup notifications for keywords applied to your website or app. You’ll get notified every time the system detects similarities.
- Add note about your copyrights. If you include this information in your app, you’ll cut the number of malefactors that may want to steal your content.
- Invest in platform security. Security investments are vital, even though they exceed the project budget. It may seem meaningless when just building your application. However, thoughtful product architecture will enable you to handle security issues. If your application was developed by an inexpert, it might be easily cracked. In turn, a dedicated development team applies modern technology and follows the latest security standards to guarantee the security of an app idea.
What To Do If Someone Has Already Stolen Your Project Idea?
If you detect the copy in the Google Play or Apple Store, you need to inform platforms about it. The stores can reduce the number of duplicate apps or reject them. For example, when the Flappy Bird story obtained wide publicity, the App Stores diminished the position of the copies. Each store has its own policy for such cases.
Even though it sounds easy on paper, with in-depth preparations and an experienced IT vendor, you can ensure that nobody will steal your app idea.
Kate Orekhova is a tech writer at Cleveroad. A writer by day and a reader at night, she’s keen on technology and innovations. Her passion is to tell people about the latest tech trends in the world of IT.