How to protect your App Idea Legally


I have an app idea. How do I protect it from being stolen by a competitor? The tech world has been buzzing with this question, and for those who’re worried about how to safeguard their mobile application idea, this conclusive guide is your way to go.

So let’s begin.


In This Article

  1. Step-By-Step Guide To Protect Your App Idea From Being Stolen
  2. How To Qualify For A Patent
  3. Some Important FAQs
  4. Wrapping It Up

Mobile apps have been around us for quite a while now, and today, they play an essential part in our daily lives. Just for reference, there were nearly 3 million apps on the Google Playstore in the third quarter of 2020. As for iOS, users were able to choose between almost 2 million apps.

We’re using apps for almost everything from shopping even to finance tracking. All this sums up that creating apps is perhaps one of the most profitable businesses that exist today. But here’s the catch.

Imagine that you have a great idea for your upcoming mobile application. You share that idea with an application development company and discuss your app’s development cycle’s execution in your excitement.

Everything is going on smoothly, but right before your app’s launch day, you find out that someone has created a similar app like yours.

Looking at the scenario mentioned above, you can quickly tell that this could be an utter disaster because you’ll have to face a competition instead of introducing your idea to the audience.

To avoid such situations, you need to copyright your app idea, and for those thinking whether it is possible to get an app idea patent? Here’s the answer.

Yes! It is possible. Although you can’t patent the code since the copyright already covers it under the category of law, your application’s process through which it performs a certain function could easily be patented.

Related: Creating A Website Maintenance Contract In 5 Easy Steps

How to copyright an app idea? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you understand that.

Step-By-Step Guide To Protect Your App Idea From Being Stolen In 2021

Follow these steps mentioned below to protect the app ideas from being stolen by copycats.

  1. Initiate the process of copyright
  2. Sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
  3. Avoid Outsourcing Your Project To Freelancers
  4. Reserve the name of your application
  5. Trademark your application’s logo and name
  6. Have solid documentation of everything

Step 1: Initiate The Process Of Copyright

Even though the idea of your app belongs to you in the first place, and you might think that nobody else can copy it out, but the sad reality is that any developer at any time can create something similar and claim that it belongs to them. The lawsuit of Oracle against Google is a perfect example.

Your best chance here to redeem your app’s legal rights is to have copyrights together. However, you must ask for all your app’s rights before and after the development cycle when signing documents for such agreements.

Step 2: Sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)


A Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is an official document signed by the two parties to ensure that any information shared between these two parties would remain confidential. The information shouldn’t be shared with any third party.

Therefore, it is crucial to sign an NDA before you hand over any information about your app to the development company. Now, this has two clear advantages.

First, your application idea would be confidential between you and the developer. Secondly, since there’s no risk of getting your app idea stolen, you can freely and easily express your vision about the app, which is very important for getting maximum results.

Step 3: Avoid Outsourcing Your Project To Freelancers

From concept to deployment of your app, a freelancer may cost you as cheap as $600 for a complete project. This might sound very tempting initially as this cost is only a fraction of what agencies or an in-house team would cost. But believe me, hiring a freelancer to create your app is not always the best idea and might cost you severe heartburns.

Why do we say so? Well, there are two potential disadvantages of freelancers. First, since these freelancers do not have any agreements like NDA, they can outsource your project further to a third party who could copy your idea to create an app of their own.

Related: Find A Website Designer: 9 Tips For Finding Best Web Designers Near Me

Secondly, suppose your project is highly technical, and they abandon it halfway through the development cycle. In that case, you’re most likely going to look for a company to complete your project or build it right from scratch.

To ensure the safety of your valuable app idea and the quality of work throughout the development cycle, it is essential to work with an experienced company with expert developers.

These companies are always cautious about their reputation in the market and won’t do something unethical to mess it up. Moreover, they’re always motivated to work hard to create an outstanding application.

Step 4: Reserve The Name Of Your Application

For Android, you can have multiple apps with a similar name. However, that’s not the case with iOS. In the Apple Appstore, you can reserve your app’s name in advance so that nobody else can copy it.

Follow these steps to reserve your app’s name in the Appstore.

  1. Sign in to your iTunes Connect with your Apple ID.
  2. On the top right corner, click on the My Apps
  3. Click on Add New App
  4. Upload your app bundle.
  5. Click on the Create button to reserve your app’s name.
  6. Upload your app to the Appstore through Xcode when it is ready for deployment.

Once you reserve your app’s name by following these steps, no one would be able to use it for their app.

Step 5: Trademark Your Application’s Logo And Name

Trademark registered with your brand name is a great way of keeping your work from those who can attempt to copy it. Therefore, it is highly important to trademark your app’s logo and name.

Moreover, it also acts as a brand identity that connects directly with your users.

Step 6: Have A Solid Documentation Of Everything

The chances of your app idea being stolen are always present, and you might even have to settle it in a courtroom. Therefore, from the execution to your app’s deployment, you must have solid documentation of each process. And by every process, we mean even the smallest pieces of details and information.

The information may include your brainstorming blueprint and app’s code etc. Small details like even your design drafts might prove to be the strongest proof against the copycats.

Now you know how to copyright an app idea. I know most of you are wondering how to qualify your app for a patent. We’ve got an answer to that.

How To Qualify For A Patent

The patent eligibility of your app idea is typically determined using three important factors. Here they are

  1. It must be an invention
  2. The idea should be unique
  3. It must be qualified as useful

It Must Be An Invention

To get patent eligibility for any product, it must have to be an invention – meaning that it should be a solution to some problem. Therefore, to get your app patent, its development process should be a solution to a problem.

The Idea Should Be Unique

The patent-eligibility doesn’t only depend upon whether your app is an invention, but the idea must also be unique.

In simpler words, it is important to make sure that your app idea hasn’t been disclosed publicly through other YouTube videos, pending patent requests or articles, etc.

It Must Be Qualified As Useful

This last point may sound strange. But don’t worry, as it doesn’t mean anything like your app shouldn’t be a game or under any entertainment category.

However, you should make sure that you have a detailed and concrete explanation of how your app works in favor of your audience.

Refer to this video for a better understanding.

By reading this guide, you know how to protect an app idea. Here are some FAQs related to the subject to fill any possible gap.

Some Important FAQs

1. What Does Copyrighting An App Idea Mean?

Copyrighting your app idea means that it is your intellectual property and is protected by law from being copied or stolen without your consent. You have exclusive rights over the app idea, and you can exclude others from selling or developing it.

2. Is It possible To Patent An App Idea?

Since it is developed to solve a problem for people, its development process is considered an invention that can be patented.

3. How To Check If Someone Already patents my App Idea?

USPTO provides a complete database of approved and pending patent requests for those who want to check if their idea is patented. Search through this database to find whether or not someone has already patented your app idea.

4. When Should I Copyright My App?

It is always a great idea to file for a patent before you disclose any information about an app idea publicly. The reason behind this is quite simple – copyrights of an app idea are not given to someone who created it but to the one filed for its patent first.

5. How Much Does It Cost to file A Patent For Your App Idea?

The cost of getting your app idea patent would highly depend upon the type of patent request you will apply for. It would cost you somewhere between $2000 and $5000 to file a provisional patent. Filing a non-provisional patent would cost you somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000.

Wrapping It Up

The sad reality here is that your app idea could be stolen anytime. There are several real-life examples of that, including VLC media player and Uber.

If you have a great application idea, you know how to protect it from copycats by reading this article, therefore follow this guide mentioned above and start protecting your app today to execute your app idea and start earning revenue with safety.