How can you keep your software idea confidential & safe?
The simplest and most complete answer to this question is to keep your product or program to yourself – although that is not always practical. We are constantly seeing that speed to market is achieved through working with the right developers, partners, advisers and investors. In that sense, it simply isn’t practical to keep your new program or app secret. Fortunately there are still a number of simple protections to safeguard your software.
Under New Zealand law, a computer program is explicitly included as something that can be protected by copyright. Copyright gives the creator of the computer program the exclusive right to deal with, change, sell and otherwise develop the program.
However, there are a couple of exceptions to that creator rule:
So, if you have employed or commissioned someone to create and build your computer program, then generally you will be the owner of the copyright and entitled to the copyright protections.
For your program to be protected by copyright, it must be an original work.
The copyright protection does not extend to the idea, function, commands or even the sequence of the computer program. For a computer program, copyright law protects the source code and the object code. At the moment, everything beneath that is unprotected by copyright law. A program may therefore be designed to achieve the exact same goal, but as long as the source code and object code a different, there is no copyright protection available to the original creator.
Given the idea itself is not protected, it is always a good idea to have a Non-Disclosure Agreement (‘NDA’) signed before discussing with any potential investors, or even potential partner developers/programmers. An NDA can prevent the other party from discussing your new program/idea with anyone else, and can even prevent that party from going out and using that idea for their own benefit.
Beware of relying on NDA templates found on the internet. Often these NDAs are only intended to cover initial discussions and quite often require a detailed development or investment agreement to be signed. Furthermore, general templates may not be specific enough to provide real protection for your particular program/idea.
If you have concerns about a software development, please do not hesitate to contact our specialised team on 04 970 3600.