Protecting intellectual property is a common practice in the software sector. However, things are different in mobile app development. It is the app idea that is more important rather than the code. Before you speak to anyone about the app idea, you will hear the dreaded words such as- “Kindly send me an NDA”. Before we go further discussing on how to protect the intellectual property of an app, let’s first understand what actually NDA is.
What is NDA?
NDA stands for “Non-disclosure agreement”. The fundamental issue with NDA is that people don’t know what they are required to do while signing an NDA.
NDA is a contractual agreement which states that both parties involved will work to protect the confidentiality of the information and no matter what the complications are ,the data will not be disclosed to the third party.
According to some mobile app developers, the NDA seems to be ridiculous in some cases because the app idea is solely developed in their imagination. They don’t have any business plan, wireframes, design, investors, or anything else about the mobile app. The idea is restricted to 2-3 sentences.
What does an NDA cannot accomplish?
According to the Mobile app Development Company, the NDA is signed to protect the mobile app idea. But the NDA does not prevent others from stealing the idea. It only prevents the named parties in the document from disclosing the confidential information to others.
It means if a party approaches the mobile development company or mobile app developers with the same app idea, they can build the mobile app for their client provided they do not use any confidential information from the NDA document. However, it is challenging for the recipient to handle a conflict of interest.
When should you avoid signing an NDA?
If you are not providing your own NDA, be cautious before signing a one-sided NDA. You need to opt for a mutual NDA where both parties are recipients and disclosure of the confidential information.
Also, do not sign NDA that does not have a term limit. Looking at the pace with which the mobile industry moves, the appropriate term limit for NDA should be not more than 2 years.
When can you sign an NDA?
If you are dealing with an established company, a reputed brand, a startup that has the funding ready or any comparable organization, you can go ahead and sign an NDA. The reason being that such companies have more to protect versus companies with ideas. However, the NDA should be mutual and the mutual terms should be reasonable and should not have any unfair provisions.
You still need to be cautious while signing an NDA and see if it is a better fit for both parties in all aspects. A number of phone conversations or high-level email communication should be enough to decide best-fit conditions for the NDA. If the client is extremely pushy about NDA, it can be a warning sign for you.
When can an NDA be an obstacle for app development?
The author’s inclination to protect the app idea and features seems logical. However, excessive secrecy can become an obstacle for development work and can slow down the pace of development. Here are some sample situations when signing an NDA don’t prove to be a justified choice
Disclosing the main idea to sponsors can be a great risk, but it is hard to convince other parties to invest into something that can be only discussed after signing agreements. The best way is to maintain balance, though the mutual discussions pertaining to the general direction of the project including usage and technologies, but at the same time do not disclose the main features of the app.
Developer hiring stage
Android and iPhone app developers need to be informed about the scope of work during hiring which is tough without divulging some part of the app idea. The best way to deal with this situation is to discuss prospective technologies and problems faced during development until the app developer starts working on the project.
The proper use of NDA is its timely proposal. Too much secrecy can harm while not giving up the whole idea is needed to safeguard the project during development.