How can you protect your app idea?

5 min read time

Almost every first-time mobile application owner worries that people are going to steal their idea. They tend to keep the whole concept as a secret until they launch. Or sometimes even worse, the anxiety that somebody is going to make millions by stolen their thought prevents them to go ahead ad lunch their own application.

“To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. 
Execution is worth millions.” — Steve Jobs

While there are many things you as a mobile app owner should be worried about, this is not one of them. The simple concept of a business application alone will not guarantee the total success and you cannot prevent 100% sure that someone else on earth will create an app just like yours.

So how can you secure specific confidential information related to your business when hiring an app designer? What is the best practice to protect business related information before starting to develop a mobile application? What kind of agreement can you have for this purpose? 

In this article, we’re going to describe you the non-disclosure agreement, the special type of document to prevent your confidential data to be stolen. You’re going to read about the most common reasons for signing it as well and finally, we’ll give you the most effective way to protect your app idea in the stage of development.

What is a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)?

This kind of documents does exactly what the name implies: it’s an agreement between two parties not to disclose specific things.

A contractual agreement states that both parties involved will work to protect the confidentiality of the information. The data will not be disclosed to a third party.

There are three different types of these agreements: Unilateral NDA, Mutual (or bilateral) NDA and Multilateral NDA. Most of the time non-disclosure agreement falls into the unilateral category, it means that one person agrees not to share certain information about another party.

The main purpose of the non-disclosure agreement for app development is to secure your trade secrets, customer lists, and other confidential information. If they are revealed to third parties, it may lead to business losses.

Reasons to sign a non-disclosure agreement for app development

Companies use non-disclosure agreement to protect secrets. You could consider using it with your employees, independent contractors, other businesses, or anyone you’re consulting with about your application for the following reasons.

  • To protect your trade secrets

Your trade secrets are the most valuable kind of information for your business. A good non-disclosure agreement for app development may prevent the disclosure of trade secrets to protect your business from competitors.

  • To secure more specific confidential information

Confidential information can include passwords, customer lists, blueprints, devices and hardware configurations, prototypes etc. Its’ disclosure can cause you much trouble.

  • To minimize the risk of working with external specialists

Freelancers often disappear in the middle of development without any warnings, they can hardly be controlled. The legal obligations may increase their responsibility and prevent such unpleasant situations in the future.

Application development agencies care much more about their reputation so they want to avoid any troubles. They may have their own business secrets that need to be protected, so maybe they are going to offer you to sign a mutual non-disclosure agreement as well.

  • To keep your business concept hidden during stealth mode

Stealth mode means the state of a company when it develops a product that is going to revolutionize the market but they’re trying to avoid public attention for the moment.

The early leak of information about the product or concept may destroy the whole strategy. Having a written agreement can help to keep the information locked and safe.

  • To protect your money

Signing the non-disclosure mobile application development agreement is an important step that you can take proactively to keep your money safe. It can help you to avoid your project stolen and left without any funds.

Another reason to use an NDA is for the psychological effect. The idea, that someone can get legal action taken against them after signing an official document can put fear into their minds. Non-disclosure agreements also let people know that information is confidential. That way it’s clear from the start.

By having an NDA can you really protect your app idea?

Let’s take an example that you had an app concept for a coffee delivery service. If you share your idea with someone, a non-disclosure agreement won’t be able to prevent them from building a similar application, as long as they don’t use confidential secrets to do it.

Trying to prove that your idea was breached is much harder to prove and specify in an agreement. So by having an NDA, you can secure confidential data like trade secrets, prototypes or customer related information, but it’s tough to legally protect your concept or idea.

What can you really do to protect your app concept?

Signing a non-disclosure agreement will give you protection to some degree, but it won’t 100% guarantee your app is safe.

Otherwise, you shouldn’t worry about people stealing your idea before you even know if it’s worth stealing. If after launch you find users really love your application, then it may be time to start worrying and looking for a solution.

The first thing you can do to protect your application during stage development is to work with a reputable company.Conduct thorough research by using reliable review sites to make sure the agency you work with is trustworthy and has quality reviews.

You can consider getting copyright. This will protect the source code, in-app copy, and graphics. Copyright registration is fast and costs usually under $1,000.

Having a patentcan give you the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention in your country. Although it’s the most expensive type of protection.

You can protect the name of your app, it’s just as important as protecting the technology. The process is calledtrademark registration.


Most of the time companies use non-disclosure agreements to protect secrets and confidental information. It’s a smart decision to have a specific document for securing all your business related data when you start to work with contractors on your app.

Otherwise you can’t 100% sure prevent someone else on earth will make the same mobile app idea like yours. Don’t forget the quotation from Steve Jobs: „Execution is worth millions.”

Peter Kovacs
Author - Peter Kovacs

Helps his customers to make more money with their websites’s content by writing blogposts, e-mail content and creating landing and sales pages. A writer by day and reader by night.

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