Imagine a situation: you have built a social app. It has taken several months or even a year to complete it. Finally, you are about to launch it but are really conscious about others interfering and building a more powerful tool based on your idea. What to do? How to secure your invention from the copy-cats and generate so desired profit? There is no simple answer to these questions, but several options or, said another way, workarounds, that may help you to be ahead of the game. Let’s enumerate the ways of how can you protect your app.
A mobile app can be protected by the copyright, patent or trademark law. The appliance conditions differ for each protection type and before proceeding with an application it is useful to study the most important aspects.
Trademarking is probably the easiest way of securing your creation. The name or logo of your app is unique enough? Go ahead! Spare a few hundred bucks while the app is still under the development and trademark your app’s name as well as the brand. Although trademark does not cover y ideas and concepts, the appliance will help you to restrict others from using words, symbols, icons and logos associated with your app. What is more, you can even trademark the name of a service or feature your app provides. Such move won’t let your competitors create copies of your product or use similar sounding names and graphics to trick the potential customers and cash in on your idea. To make it even better, you get extra safeguard against possible lawsuits and legal issues.
When it comes to intellectual property, copyright is one of the most well-known notions. Choosing this protection type, you should remember that it won’t protect the idea, fact or operation method, unless they will be expressed in a creative way. Simply put, copyright is granted for the source code, graphics, texts, audio and visual content. The copyright obtaining process is cheaper and faster, compared with submitting a patent or a trademark. Filling an online application you secure the code and UI elements from imitators, can place the copyright notice on your work and focus on further app improvement.
Applying for a patent is a tricky and costly process. To be patent-eligible, your app must be novel or provide some unique functionality. Consider all pros and cons before filing a request and proceed further only if your app is really patentable and you consider it as a long-term business venture. The truth is, it will take a few years to get a patent, but once obtained it grants serious protection and, considering all legal troubles involved, your competitors will think twice before copying the patented app. Even a pending patent will stop competitors from duplicating your app and grant some basic protection level for the UI design and the way your app operates. In any case, if a job is worth doing it is worth doing well, isn’t it? Consider these “Top 7 reasons why your startup needs a patent“.
Get the right people involved
To avoid the idea theft and the information leakage, choose only reputable individuals or outsourcing companies to work with. Reliable third-party contractors won’t have any problems providing you all reference information your request. Screen their website, previous projects, and clients’ feedback. It is as simple as ABC to run a background check before you even arrange an appointment with them.
Once your idea is turned into an app, it gets the copyright protection. Technically, the hired developer or company will own these rights. Therefore, arrange written agreements and make sure that the copyrights will be released to you at the end of the project. The same goes for the product ownership. If you plan some external hires or want to work with freelancers, prepare a contract beforehand to ensure that you will inherit all IP rights as the sole owner of the final product.
Do not forget about the NDA
There is no physical expression of your app, but you need to share your idea with people that may be potentially involved in your project? Take one more step to prevent the project-related information disclosure when revealing it to potential investors, partners, developers or outsourcing companies. Hire an attorney to prepare a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), exchange the signed version with the future business partner to ensure the data confidentiality. Of course, this agreement won’t provide an absolute protection. Sometimes you will need to outline the idea without deepening into details and sharing the ‘secret recipe’ to attract an investor. But in any case, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
The intellectual property protection is a very important aspect. However, it is not the first thing you pay attention at when starting a business. Quite often you get so excited about the idea or project, have to fulfill multiple tasks and simply forget about the proactive measures that will save your nerves, money, and help to avoid legal troubles and IP mistakes in future. Keep in mind the simple steps outlined above and you will easily conquer the mobile world with your game-changing app.