There are millions of ideas out there, but the moment you start doing something with it, it becomes a concept well known as intellectual property (IP).
What you can do to legally protect yourself depends on your project idea. Yet it might be difficult when you’re starting out as legal options like copyrighting your concept can be expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, ideas can’t be patented, so that’s also a dead end.
But to get a project off the ground, you will need help. This means you will need help from other people or a 3rd party vendor to turn an idea into a successful software product.
According to Raad Ahmed, CEO of LawTrades.com, you have to take the following steps to keep your idea secure.
Get a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) signed
Before you do anything, writing up an NDA will help protect your idea by barring others from sharing it for certain period of time. An NDA is a confidentiality contract between two parties to ensure that confidentiality is maintained over a specified timeframe.
So if the other party violates this agreement, you will have every right to sue them for breach of contract. However, you will have to make sure that it complies with the state law, so it’s always best to have an attorney review it to make sure that it can be enforced.
Don’t give everything away
According to Raad Ahmed, one of the best ways to protect your idea is to not give away too many details during your discussions. This means that you should avoid giving others a step-by-step guide.
Also read: How Startups Can Protect Their IP and Avoid Legal Issues
However, if you’re pitching your idea to venture capitalists, then you will have to divulge some details. In this scenario, that will be completely fine. But if you’re still in the idea stage, you have to take steps to protect the way you plan and execute it.
Retain 100% ownership of your future product
If you choose to hire a 3rd party vendor for your software development, make sure to assign all IP rights to yourself in a contract. This should include everything related to your project from design and development documentation to all code written.
Also, make sure your vendor has the right and license to use whatever 3rd party tools and platforms they may use for your project development.
Feel free to be picky
Even though you might be extremely excited about your idea, don’t just go ahead and tell the world. Instead, your project idea should be on a “need to know basis.”
Another way to protect your idea is to mark your territory by stamping the word “Confidential” on anything that’s related to the idea. This applies to both online and offline communication, documentation, and even wireframes related to your projects (but this approach will only work like a deterrent).
Make sure you aren't infringing someone else's copyrights
As the practice shows, it's more likely you will infringe someone else's trademark rather than have someone infringe yours. Prior to specking out and prototyping your product do you research and make sure your product's logo, design or name isn't protected by any trademark.
In conclusion, there are many steps you can take to protect your project idea cost-effectively. But at the same time, it’s important to note that ideas are worthless without execution. So don’t let the fear of having your idea stolen hold you back!
Featured image courtesy of Digi117