How do I hire someone to build a web application without letting the person steal my idea?
At Cuelogic, the HR department and top management work together and device certain mechanisms to safeguard against any such occurrence. Right from hiring to the exit policy, steps and rules have been devised to negate any chances of programmers stealing web application ideas.
Ownership, copyrights and patents are a tricky business in the dog-eat-dog IT industry world. With new companies coming up and brand new ideas constantly talked about, there is always a chance that your web application idea could be stolen. Although this is a rare occurrence, it is always recommended that you guard your ideas and coding patterns. The biggest instance of a programmer allegedly stealing an idea and making it big is the Facebook story, as featured in the blockbuster movie, The Social Network (2010).
Although ideas are not worth much on paper, it is their combination of coding and design in the form of a web application that has value. As per the law, just speaking about the idea or mentioning it in conversation doesn't make it YOUR idea. Executing the idea in the form of a web application, is the real deal.
1. Apart from the usual interview rounds, Cuelogic makes it clear to the prospective employee that they will have to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before joining the company.
2. Meanwhile, the HR department conducts a detailed background check on work history of previous organizations, character record and current financial status.
3. Yet, there is no foolproof way to know if a prospective candidate will steal an idea, especially if the candidate has a clean record. There haven't been as many cases of individuals stealing web application ideas. For instance, to bar candidates from rival (web application making) companies is a bewildering proposition. Finally it's the judgment call by the HR department and the interviewer that decides the candidate's fate.
One of the main documents that a programmer signs before been roped in at Cuelogic is the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). This is what it consists of:
- Specific list of what exactly is confidential information.
- Clear statement in the document as to what specific information should not be discussed.
- List of exceptions (if any), when the withheld information needs to be revealed.
- A clear statement that the rights to the information solely belongs to the employer.
- A detailed list of the exact consequences in case the agreement is breached.
Forceful and meaningful implementation is a key to create an impression that you mean business, for the NDA to be taken seriously.
What to Reveal, What Not To
Cuelogic is dedicated to the cause of preventing any chances of idea stealing. Hence, there are some initial steps implemented during the project phase, before the development of the web application:
- Withholding all information that a programmer doesn't need to know during the course of the project.
- Allowing access to data involved in the making of the initial product and nothing more. We usually hire another programmer to work on the next version of the web application.
- Applying for a web application patent before it is launched in the market, a safeguard against theft.
Precautions at the Workplace
Concerned personnel at Cuelogic realize that the modern office premises requires 24-hour surveillance. Transferring ideas is not a difficult task with available technology. All information stored on computer is thus protected through passwords, firewalls and encryption. Another aspect is protecting the workplace computers against potential hacking attacks. The hired programmer is held accountable for safeguarding confidential information to a certain degree. Here are some directives they are subjected to:
- A part of every employee induction includes a section on the company's confidentiality policy. Every one, right from the top management to the bottom is made aware of why confidentiality is the company's prime concern.
- Programmers working on the web application are not allowed to bring in pen drives, smartphones, camera phones, recording devices, portable hard discs and other related equipment into the company premises.
- Programmers must ensure that their desk or cubicle is free of any vital information, before they leave for home.
- If the matter to be discussed is highly confidential - email communication is forbidden.
- Any reproduced copies of the secret document are usually destroyed. A shredding machine is always handy.
- Programmers are forbidden to discuss confidential data in public.
- All secret information is marked 'CONFIDENTIAL' such that every programmer is aware of its nature.
In Case of Resignation / Termination
- The appointment letter and NDA clearly state that no confidential information must leave the company in case of the employee's resignation or termination from service.
- The exit meeting thus assumes prime importance. It is made clear to the employee that revealing secret information about the concerned web application would lead to serious consequences.
Finally, in case an idea is stolen, Cuelogic has its team of lawyers and technology-aided methods through which a strong case against the culprit will be made. But through its actions, especially in the making of the NDA, Cuelogic as a company attempts to prevent any such incidents from occurrence.