I would like to hire someone for building an android (an maybe later windows/ios) application but in order to get an estimate they need to know what exactly needs to be done - obviously. Now I'm afraid that upon sharing the idea, it will be stolen and someone else will build the app.

Does this require a patent first?

How should I proceed?

  • 1
    You could file a provisional application, but a true patent will likely take 3+ years to get. How about a non-disclosure agreement?
    – Eric S
    Jan 19, 2020 at 15:56
  • 3
    Based on past experience and observations in the software industry, ideas are not valuable; instead, execution and effort are valuable. It is a rookie mistake to assume that one's ideas are unique, profitable, and easily stolen. In reality, ideas are abundant, even the biggest companies implement products based on well-established ideas, and no one wants to steal ideas because it's very expensive to follow through with all the necessary effort.
    – Nayuki
    Jan 19, 2020 at 21:28
  • @Nayuki Valuable observations. Thanks for sharing.
    – Eric S
    Jan 19, 2020 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


The standard approach is to execute a non-disclosure agreement with the potential consultant(s). I have many times requested quotations from consultants on projects containing proprietary technology and have never had an issue with the ideas being stolen. Assuming the non-disclosure agreement was executed (perhaps as part of the request for quotation) the consultant would risk a lawsuit if they tried to steal your idea.

If you are in the US, you could file a provisional patent application, but you do need to know what you are doing to make it useful and consulting with a patent attorney or agent is recommended. Also, not all aspects of intellectual property with regards to computer applications are covered by patents. There are also potential copyright and trademark issues so consulting with a lawyer is a really good idea.

  • Executing a non-disclosure agreement was my thought either but this will only deny the current consultant to steal the idea as he could share this with anyone else he chooses. While I'm not in the US, i'll try to find if there is such thing as provisional patent in my country.
    – Stan K
    Jan 20, 2020 at 7:30
  • @StanK Non disclosure means what it says. If the consultant shares your idea with a friend, you sue him.
    – Eric S
    Jan 20, 2020 at 14:47
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    @StanK You could post a new question regarding whether there is an equivalent to the US provisional application in your country. Probably not however. You will most likely need to file a regular patent application. Again, a non-disclosure explicitly bans a party from sharing information with others.
    – Eric S
    Jan 20, 2020 at 15:12
  • @EricShain Some jurisdictions accept patent application filings without paying any fees, or have cheap filing fees (i.e. without paying the search/examination fees). The patent applications will be deemed abandoned, but they produce priority rights for later on. A European patent application may be filed without paying any fees for example. National law will determine whether one is allowed to file a patent application that is not a national patent application in that country. Jan 20, 2020 at 17:30
  • @theEuropeist I encourage you to post an answer. The problem with just applying and abandoning is that if you sue, ultimately you have no IP. It's true that an application can be a threat, but by itself it isn't IP.
    – Eric S
    Jan 20, 2020 at 18:11

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