I'm looking to partner with an app development company to create a prototype. How should I protect myself?

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4

Make sure you have a written agreement saying that it is a work made for hire and otherwise assigning all rights in the app and its underlying code to you. Under copyright law, if you hire someone to create something for you, they own the copyright unless you have a written agreement to the contrary.

Also helps to be clear about other terms, like what they will be doing, when you will be paying them, and what standards of functionality or quality, if any, they need to meet.

Thank you David

Great advice, David. I'd add that even though the cost of development is likely to be an estimate make it clear in the contract that overages won't exceed a certain amount (% or $) and that they will still be obliged to deliver the prototype, the features and functionality of which should be clearly defined.

3

I'll be the devil's advocate here and advise against patenting. It is costly both in time and money, and there is no guarantee that it will protect the app.
If you are "partnering" and worried that the partner might steal the idea, then the contract is the best protection.

Farzad you are so right. Good things do not always come for those who wait and patients is not always a virtue. Move on it now. Set up a strong contract get it signed and notarized, then go after the patenting. It is a long process and by the time you are making headway someone may have created or started marketing a similar item as yours.

2

You can protect yourself by having your app patented and also having contract with your business partner. Never do business without a contract.

Thank you Emil

2

You should first and make sure you have a NDA that is tailored for you and your company. Then you should research that company and compare them to their competitors and see why they stand out to you the most. If its proprietary information make sure to request a signed NDA before speaking on anything about the app.

Down Below is a few articles that we have our clients look over.

http://www.iphoneappquotes.com/PDF/iphone-app-development-non-disclosure-agreement-nda.pdf


http://mobiledevices.about.com/od/mobileappbasics/f/What-Should-I-Take-Into-Account-Before-Hiring-A-Mobile-App-Developer.htm

You guys are awesome! Thanks so much

2

I see most of what you need in previous comments. From experience (I have been burned in spite of diligence of 'knowing better'). two big ones. A specific timeline with documentation written WRITTEN (code) and source code. Make the timeline measurable, not judgmental.
And make sure you have exclusive rights to all source code. The rest is unimportant as if you do not get what you want, in written documented form, the agreement failed (not you) and you may have the wrong app development partner.

1

First, you need a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement. Once you find a partner, you will need a detailed partnership agreement (or operating agreement/shareholder agreement). I strongly recommend that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible and before getting started. Feel free to contact me if you wish.

Thank you Scott!

1

How you protect yourself depends on your intended relationship with this company, which is a little ambiguous from your question.

Are you paying them to create an app for you? If so, you need to have a written agreement in place that clearly sets out the relationship and describes the work they are doing. It should also make the payment terms clear and that you own the intellectual property. Put confidentiality language in there too. Talk to an attorney to make sure this is all done properly.

Are they paying you to create an app for them? If so, the above still applies. Just make sure that you are protected, including knowing that you will get paid even if they fire you or you need to walk away. Again, get an attorney to make sure this is done properly.

Will you be working together with the company to develop this app for possible sale? If so this is much more complex and you should definitely talk to an attorney about the best way to set this up before you get too far into things. For example, it might make sense for you to form a company of some sort. There are way too many things that need to be addressed in a decision like that though to try to go it alone.

So the simple answer to your question: talk to an attorney so he/she can make sure you are properly protected whatever your relationship with this company might be.

You're absolutely right Bradley. I do have a registered company here in Canada and I'd like to make an app as my first product. Before I go any further I should speak with an attorney. Is there a type of attorney I should speak with?

Andre, I would look for an attorney that has experience with tech companies and app development. Not that a general small business attorney couldn't help you out, but someone with experience or a focus in development will be best equipped to not only handle this issue but any other issue that comes up such as licensing, terms of service for your app, etc.

Good luck,

1

Each bit of earlier advice is prudent:
- Speak with an attorney - perhaps in a more educated manner facilitated below, and clarify your scope, goals, execution plans & resources; Speak with a registered patent attorney (1) about potential patentability/value and filing at least a provisional patent application with consideration of a non-provisional application to follow within a year & (2) to aid in fleshing out your app, its current/future implications, its various aspects, etc.; Research potential vendors, their services & their reputability - also keeping in mind that further expansion, refinement &/or other work may arise; Seek an NDA before discussing your project or divulging confidential information; Work only under contract, keeping in mind work for hire rules and other aspects (see Attorneys above).
- You might also consider dividing the project among different vendors. Caution is justifiable, becoming educated is essential & invaluable, and clarity breeds objectivity/some degree of sanity if and when needed.

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