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Apps. – some legal advice needed

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After reading:

[color="#2e8b57"]'Taking a job is in some ways like a ­second option,' addedAkshay Kothari, who co-created the iPad-news-app company, Pulse. The App, whichhas more than five million users, was made during a class at Stanford'sInstitute of Design and was sold for $4 million five weeks later.

[color="#2e8b57"]'If you say you’ve taken a job, it’s like, "Oh, youhaven’t figured it out?”'

in Daily Mail

a hell of an app idea hit me the same very day. Now say I’mno programmer and I want to partner up with a programmer to do the app. and –but of course – make (at least) $4 million in 3 hours of work. Is there any wayto protect the concept before showing it around?

For instance I PPA-ed BilliChess (video game concept)before showing it around. How about an app. concept? How can it be protectedand how best to (try to) market it when the interested parties may be Google,MSN, Yahoo, FB? To be even more to the point say I had that $4 million idea(presented in Daily Mail) and was looking for a programmer online

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First you need to write a business plan. In the course of writing the plan, you should do research on the legal and IP protection aspects you asked about.
Look up copyright, patent, and trademark.
A business degree and/or a marketing degree are recommended.

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First you need to write a business plan. In the course of writing the plan, you should do research on the legal and IP protection aspects you asked about.
Look up copyright, patent, and trademark.
A business degree and/or a marketing degree are recommended.


I have extensive IP protection experience since I have over 20 Intellectual Properties at the Library of Congress, but this is my first app concept and I'm no programmer. So just imagine a Joe6pack (who is a smart architect, but no programmer) having the idea mentioned in that Daily Mail article. How is Joe supposed to go from [color="#008000"](A) Having the idea to [color="#008000"](B) picking up his $4M check from his mailbox? He shouldn't just post the idea on some forums and ask who wants to make (a share of) $4M in 3 hours of coding, right?

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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1322980179' post='4890329']
First you need to write a business plan. In the course of writing the plan, you should do research on the legal and IP protection aspects you asked about.
Look up copyright, patent, and trademark.
A business degree and/or a marketing degree are recommended.


I have extensive IP protection experience since I have over 20 Intellectual Properties at the Library of Congress, but this is my first app concept and I'm no programmer. So just imagine a Joe6pack (who is a smart architect, but no programmer) having the idea mentioned in that Daily Mail article. How is Joe supposed to go from [color="#008000"](A) Having the idea to [color="#008000"](B) picking up his $4M check from his mailbox? He shouldn't just post the idea on some forums and ask who wants to make (a share of) $4M in 3 hours of coding, right?
[/quote]

If it is 3 hours of coding Joe would go to the library and grab a book on programming and do it himself. (Programming is only difficult if you try to do difficult things), A project that an experienced programmer can complete in 3 hours a complete newbie can pull off in a month or two and if the concept is truly good enough to pull in millions, why share ?

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The same way everyone does, Pinky! Just follow this simple formual:



  1. Have an idea
  2. ???
  3. Profit!


All snark aside, the formula is actually quite serious, its just that step 2 has anywhere between 5 and 500 sub-steps. But there's no way to go directly from step 1 to step 3, and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional -- an idea has no intrinsic financial value what-so-ever.

The article you point to is great and all, but such quick success is not a simple thing -- its a combination of the right idea, in the right environment, with the right connections, with people capable of bringing that idea to fruition in a short time. Even over 5 weeks, assuming 3 people contributing, you could still have upwards of 600 man-hours into the implementation, and probably no less than 50.

An idea that really would require just a handful of hours of investment is an awful tough sell. At that scope, a programmer has already figured out the solution in broad strokes before you've finished explaining the idea. What you believe to be a novel idea, therefore: already exists and you haven't looked hard enough to find it, has been thought of but determined not to be a viable business, or has been attempted and failed.


By all means, follow your dreams, but if you've really got 20 bits of IP floating around that you've not done enough with to keep you busy, then perhaps you have too many dreams and not enough follow-through.

Also, keep in mind that you can't protect an idea -- the USPTO and courts are even becoming more and more wary over IP regarding processes (business methods and software, essentially) which is a step or two more refined than an idea -- no protection means no possible way to profit, because someone with more experience, capital, and greater reach will swoop down and toss you out of the race if your idea is worth anything at all in practice.

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1. I have extensive IP protection experience
2. How is Joe supposed to go from [color="#008000"](A) Having the idea to [color="#008000"](B) picking up his $4M check

1. Okay, then, ignoring the question of why you had to ask about IP protection, you can ignore that part of my previous answer.
2. You're working it all wrong. Instead of A to B (in which you ignored A-and-1/4 and A-and-1/2 and A-and-3/4, etc.), work it from Z to A. Let's work it backwards.

Z. Collect massive paycheck.
Y. Support the end users.
X. Market your product.
W-and-1/2. Register your IP protection.
W. Get your product served up to the marketplace.
V. Get the deal worked out with the platform holder so your product can be served up.
U. Make the product.
T. Get funding.
S. Write business plan - make sure you explain in great detail in the business plan how you're going to do U, V, W, X, Y, and Z.

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Back on planet earth, your idea has a slim-zer0 chance of generating $4M. Rovio had 59 failures before 1 giant success in Angry Birds. Successful App makers don't just hire 1 programmer and release a game, they build a business, market to customers and respond to market changes. Oh, but you are just an idea guy and don't want to be bothered. Too bad, this is a business and no one feels sorry for the guy with the $1M who didn't make it.

BTW - most people use NDA's to protect an "idea" b/c copyright only applies to "original expression in a tangible medium". Provisional patents require you to disclose the idea and only last 1 year before you have to file an actual patent application which others can then design around.

Good luck!

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Back on planet earth, your idea has a slim-zer0 chance of generating $4M. Rovio had 59 failures before 1 giant success in Angry Birds. Successful App makers don't just hire 1 programmer and release a game, they build a business, market to customers and respond to market changes. Oh, but you are just an idea guy and don't want to be bothered. Too bad, this is a business and no one feels sorry for the guy with the $1M who didn't make it.

BTW - most people use NDA's to protect an "idea" b/c copyright only applies to "original expression in a tangible medium". Provisional patents require you to disclose the idea and only last 1 year before you have to file an actual patent application which others can then design around.

Good luck!



[color="#008000"]It's not about a game, a game would take way longer than 3 hours. It's about something that would make life much easier for hundreds of millions of internet users (probably at least 50% of them will use this app; in most businesses it will be mandatory). I don't think an NDA is worth much -- if anything at all -- if the programmer is not from the western world (for instance I'm in US and the programmer is in India) ..

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Doesn't matter whether we are talking about a game app or something else. The point kdog77 was trying to make is successful developers endured multiple failures in their lifetime.

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