As an app developer, should I have an NDA?


I am in the process of launching an LLC for app development. I already have a potential customer who has inquired about an app which I am currently creating mock-up designs for. Before I present the designs and go-forth with the development of the app, should I have him sign an NDA? Should it be a mutual NDA?

Development Customers NDA

asked Nov 30 '12 at 18:03
Matt Clark
135 points

4 Answers


In your particular situation I don't know why you would. As far as I understand the problem: Your customer is asking you to develop a custom solution for them. Correct?

If it is that would mean that they would likely request to own the final product and all code related to it (I know I would). In this case I don't think you need an NDA to be signed by your customer but you might want to structure the payments on this contract to be in stages so that if you present a design and specification to the client and they decide to stop you still get paid. Whether or not you will be able to negotiate that is another story.

answered Dec 1 '12 at 02:09
1,779 points


I agree with Karlson that in this instance and NDA isn't appropriate given that the designs you're producing are for the company you're meeting.

I do however agree with Steve about the wider statement that you do need to be careful about how and when you use NDAs. He is right that many large corporates will refuse to sign an NDA, in part because they simply often have no idea whether they are already developing similar ideas elsewhere within their organisation for example. Likewise if you were to approach a VC or a bank looking for investment and asked them to sign and NDA this can appear a rookie thing to do. Again neither will sign NDAs.

As a lawyer, albeit from the UK, I can confirm (not that lawyers like making fees out of them), but when a company does sign them, they're so watered down by and large, that they offer little if any protection to the disclosing party.

As with anything in life, it's all about context and the particular circumstances of the situation!

Good luck with you designs!

answered Dec 1 '12 at 07:22
Traffic Cake
139 points


In my experience, signing an NDA is a routine part of business.

Determining when you should ask someone to sign one is relatively easy. Ask, will I be telling that person anything that I wouldn't want to be public information? If yes, then you should ask for one. Most NDA's are mutual because often each party is disclosing confidential information.

There are exceptions to the above as certain types of people will refuse to sign an NDA (eg, investors) but NDA's are routine for most business negotiations.

answered Dec 2 '12 at 05:31
1,936 points


No. Most people think that NDAs are a waste of time and many assume the person requesting them is a rookie and/or unprofessional. Lawyers like them of course, because they generate can fees, but nobody else is interested.

I suspect that your "potential customer" would run for the hills if you presented them with an NDA, unless they were extremely unsophisticated.

Perhaps you have very specific circumstances which would call for an NDA, but if this was the case, I assume you'd know already it was the right thing to do and wouldn't need to ask about it here.

Of course, IANAL, IMHO, YMMV.

answered Nov 30 '12 at 19:16
Steve Jones
3,239 points
  • *No. Most people think that NDAs are a waste of time and many assume the person requesting them is a rookie and/or unprofessional.* - How's that? If I have a product that I demo to someone or let them use in Alpha or Beta stages before I bring it to market I will ask for an NDA since I don't want features and limitations of that product disclosed ahead of my releasing it. The generalization you make is simply wrong. – Karlson 10 years ago
  • Fair enough, but that sounds like a different situation, as you point out yourself above. – Steve Jones 10 years ago

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