I’ve Got An App Idea – Do I Need to Protect It?

May 12, 2020

Ever had a unique idea or an app idea that you think could potentially ‘change the world’? If you did, it’s time you did something to keep it safe so that your intellectual property remained yours. In today’s competitive times, life is nothing short of a rat race – a race in which you need to keep up or you’ll be left behind, a race in which a unique idea holds far more value than you would have initially imagined and something that can turn a friend against you, or even a colleague.

If you have an App idea, the first thing you should do is keep it to yourself and not go around town spreading the idea among your friends and family, lowering the risk of someone else stealing it. Did you know that Uber, Facebook, Microsoft, Iphone, are all billion dollar ideas that were stolen? Yes, they aren’t original! Shocking isn’t it? Something that we use so often, that we’re dependent on and apps that are so popular don’t belong to the people that actually went through the trouble of coming up with the idea? Well that’s the 21st century for you.

But do you know that this isn’t just a phenomenon of this century or this age? Of course it’s become more predominant in today’s times because of the competitive nature and huge demand in the modern day market, but this stealing of intellectual property has been prevalent since ages. Did you know that the Radio was actually Nikola Tesla’s idea, but was stolen and patented by an Italian inventor named Marconi? The world famous board game Monopoly was invented by Lizzie Maggie in 1903, but patented and later marketed by Clarence B. Darrow who saw its true business potential.

The first step is to –

  1. Copyright your app – The sad part about this is that you cannot copyright an idea, but only a complete app with a UI. The good part about this is that it is relatively much cheaper than other forms of safeguarding and provides you with a basic safety net against theft.
  2. A Non-Disclosure Agreement – This is a must. Now obviously you cannot create the app from thin air and will need to discuss it with potential co-workers such as designers and developers. You should sign an N.D.A. with them so that you can safely discuss the idea with them without the fear of it spreading outside of the closed doors. Get the best attorney for the same, with no possible loop holes in the agreement.
  3. Apply for a Patent – Probably the most important step, it makes sure that your idea is recognized as your own. Once you get a patent for your app, you not only protect it from theft of functionalities of the app, but also of people creating a similar app that serves the same purpose. The only drawback is that it doesn’t come cheap, and can sometimes cost as much as the initial investment itself. So only apply for one if you REALLY BELIEVE in your app and its usability.
  4. Work with the right kind of people – This goes without saying but we’re listing it because it’s an extremely important step in the process. Do a proper background check on who you’re doing business with, their previous clients, their reputation, their thought process and how ethical they are. At the end of the day, it’s you who decides how much information you want to reveal to them.
  5. Document Everything – This is another extremely important step – You need to document everything, right from idea to working to shortlisting of employees, to developments with dates, so that you have hard proof of what you’ve been working on and where the idea was initially incepted! Keep a log of every discussion you have with everyone regarding the app with times and topics to make life easier for you and help you sleep soundly at night.


The bottom-line is that don’t break a sweat over the fear of theft. Do what you can in your power to prevent that, but even if similar apps do come out you’ll always have the upper hand. Another thing you can do is to release a basic version of the app initially and slowly over a period of time release updates and modifications for the same. Good luck, and happy creating!



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