The first thing you’ll discover if you research idea theft is several articles written by venture capitalists, investors, and entrepreneurs, all stating that a business idea isn’t as important as the creator wants to believe. Entrepreneurs like Penelope Trunk think that people should take it as a compliment when someone steals their ideas. Investors believe that people often overvalue their ideas because start-up ideas don’t cost millions of dollars.

Should you bother protecting your idea? 

The popular opinion is that business ideas are worthless because execution is everything. David Sivers stated that a brilliant business idea could cost a maximum of $20, but a brilliantly executed idea can be worth millions of dollars. Execution is what makes the difference between successful ventures and simple ideas.

One of the most famous stories of idea stealing is that of Facebook. The Winklevoss Twins hired Mark Zuckerberg to build their idea for a Harvard social network, and while working for it, he got the idea of creating Facebook. He delayed finishing the twins’ project until he launched the Facebook website. Even if the twins sued Zuckerberg for stealing the idea, they lost the case.

In this case, was the idea or execution valuable? No one can tell, as the brothers didn’t get to launch their network. So, if you want to create an app and think you have a billion-dollar idea and execution plan, you should learn how to protect it.

How business ideas are stolen

From research, we found two common scenarios.

– Someone with competency in the sector is more likely to steal your idea because they know how to execute it. So, the risk is in the details. You shouldn’t reveal all your work to someone who works with you and fully understands the concept because they have the skills to recreate your vision.

– People steal ideas when they’re written on paper. It’s easier to use a business idea where the creator already has proof of concept, plan of action, and research paperwork. If you provide someone with all these details, don’t expect them not to take advantage of the treasure map.

What are the consequences of a stolen app idea?

Why should you try to protect your app idea? After all, there are thousands of similar apps on the market. Is it even worth it to develop it? Cloned apps harm your business because they’re more prone to capture potential users and profits than your other competitors.

Besides losing profit, your brand’s reputation and value are also affected. And where do you count that you have to spend time in court to prove the damage the thieves did. At the end of the day, an app idea is an intellectual property no a physical object, and it’s challenging to prove that someone stole it from you because there’s a fine line between inspiration and stealing.

Ways to protect an app idea from theft?

Luckily, there are countless ways to protect your app idea (or any kind of intellectual property). It’s necessary to understand what steps you must follow so that you can recover damages in the case of fraud or theft.

Get a patent

A patent is an effective way to certify your exclusive authorship, right, and priority of a design, utility model, and invention to protect your app idea. A company like can help you patent the application’s algorithms, design, and code. However, you should keep in mind that the patenting process can be complex and long, and you need to be patient.

It’s recommended to skip patenting for an app idea that doesn’t generate revenue in the development stage. You can protect it by using other methods.


Trademark registration shows your seriousness as a creator to protect your app. It’s also an opportunity to safeguard the product from cybercriminals. Trademark registration protects your app’s name and domain. Most countries provide their residents with the option to trademark their business ideas.


Copyright offers you the possibility to use and publish code planned or written for your app. Traditionally, the copyright process is used for literature and brand names, but you can also use it to protect some of your app ideas, such as interface, algorithms, terms of reference, or outline drawings. If you don’t know how to use copyright protection, consult a specialist specialized in guarding business ideas.


You collaborate with several specialists during the app development stage. They’ll be involved in numerous tasks that involve features disclosure. For your app’s protection, sign non-disclosure agreements with each contractor to prevent them from disclosing sensitive or app-related info to other people. NDAs are some of the most effective tools in protecting business ideas.

Research collaborators

Before hiring a specialist to work on your application, research to make sure they’re decent individuals. Do it no matter if you use in-house or outsourced resources. Research’s purpose is to pick a collaborator that has a transparent reputation with reviews on third-party platforms and case studies to prove their reliability. Reputable professionals always have decent portfolios and are willing to sign non-disclosure agreements.

Maintain records

Research shows that no matter at what stage your work on the app is, (creating, developing, deploying) you must document the step thoroughly. Record everything from official documentation to notes and paperwork that proves collaboration with other parties. Protecting your app idea goes beyond verbal communication with those involved in the development process.

What to do if someone steals your app idea?

Registering your app’s name and logo could be tricky, but you get unconditional protection if you hire a professional to handle the formalities. It’s easier to obtain copyright protection because it doesn’t require official action and automatically protects your creative ideas.

If someone steals your idea, you need to prove you’re its author. Each state has an institution that disputes plagiarism accusations, but often they don’t go that far. Parties involved in business idea plagiarism solve their issues with mutual agreements because no one wants to spend money and time in court. Mediation is also a form of dispute resolution because qualified experts help the parties involved reach an agreement without getting to court.