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.
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.
You can protect yourself by having your app patented and also having contract with your business partner. Never do business without a contract.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a company who develops Mobile Apps utilising the skills of qualified developers in collaboration our contract with our clients is simple yet protects the client in all respects within areas such as custom development of applications for Mobile.
The product always remains that of the client unless payment is not made within the contract deadlines.
Give me a shout if you are interested in talking seriously about getting the App into development and how we can assist with the marketing thereof utilising our Digital Marketing expertise.
We are also able to give advice on feasibility of Applications and tweaks that may be required to ensure it's viable for your intended market.
Andre - the obvious answer is to file a patent on your concept, so that it is documented as "yours".
But I'm going to give you an unconventional answer and that is to find a development company that helps to act as an incubator not just for the technology but for the business idea. If they take a piece of their compensation in revenue sharing, your interests in launching your new business will be aligned.
One word: Contract. Yeah, you'll need a lawyer to help you hash out the ins and outs of what you're doing with the partner company, but a document that spells everything out clearly and defines both sides' expectations is the only way to go to prevent misunderstandings and trouble later. And protect yourself should something not go as planned.
Depends entirely on what you mean by "Partner" and how much you believe you can trust him, in terms of prior relationship or experience ...
If by Partner you mean a "Vendor" then protect yourself through contract, if you mean "Joint Owner" then protect your self by time bound defined commitments where failure leads to break of partnership with defined consequences.
If there is substantial IP risk, whatever the nature of relationship, there is no contractual protection - only experience / trust and primarily insufficient information availability to prevent exploitation.
Yes indeed all documents can be created to the hilt and even monitored for any non compliance, while the genuine partnership didn't exist in the first place. What I have experienced in a short span is documents as portrayed by experts below are critical and smart component to have, however, relationships override everything.
So, when the relationship is all said and done, the compliance, commitment, and collaboration follow suit.
I tend to speak with them on the telephone and execute one minor pilot activity and determine several aspects or demographics of the partner. This will come out eventually as I consider partnering with them. Partnering is not just about having a bunch of documents and going about with the legal stick in mutual hands. It is truly seeing the value beyond the legality and finding if the person has a burning platform as much as you do. This is what the customer cares for - consistent behavior and culture throughout the company.
After speaking with them briefly, I suggest working on some topic and let them know this can lead to a higher level of engagement and that we must test the waters to see if it did survive the acid test.
If for some reason you don't like it mutually, then you just walk away and be thankful to each other for finding this early in the process.
Outsourcing activity is well matured and if you go to a decent size company who supports such activities (prototyping, product development, maintenance and support) and who has a history, you can try them after signing a non-disclosure and non-compete. If you need any assistance we could build it for you. WE have been working with few product companies as they end-to-end technology partners for several years. You could talk to some of our clients in the US to get first hand information about our capabilities and practices.
By dealing with a reputable company like Bytes Inc. in San Diego. They have the legal documents in place that protect you and your IP. Give me a call to discuss further. 760-807-4022. PDT
Most businesses, keep the core development inhouse. They break up the overall development project into outsourceable sub-projects, which can then be given out on contract. Offshore /Outsourced product development is a fairly established business.
There are instances where the entire develoment is outsourced. In this case your protection comes from 1) reputation of the App development company. If they specialize in OPD, they would not like to risk their name and reputation 2) Contract with strong IP protection clauses. Such agreement provide for adequate safeguards against IP theft/ loss, etc.
While you can't stop someone who is unethical from stealing your idea without a lot of costly legal maneuvers you can use an Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) or Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement (MNDA). Most companies will sign an MNDA because it protects both of you.
Before you just choose anyone thinking that one of these agreements will provide protection make sure you do your "Due Diligence." Overall if you are not satisfied with what you find or your gut tells you something is off find someone else.
I've been down this road before and there are very few companies willing to partner on a good idea because they get proposals like yours all the time and if they partnered with everyone who asked they wouldn't make next weeks payroll. But that shouldn't stop you from trying. It's just a heads up.
Also David made some very good points and a provisional patent will give you some protection for a year. The actual patent process and receiving the patent will takes years.
seek a lawyer who can instruct you in contracts, patents, copyright, and trade secrets.
What kind of product that you are going to develop? I am also looking for a partner. I have an idea which can work out. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or whatsapp me at 00971554992989