Trade Secrets and Nondisclosure Agreements

The lucky developers who tested prototype iPads before they were released to the public also had to perform one not-so-fun chore: reading through Apple’s hefty nondisclosure agreement (often called an NDA). Among other things, the agreement required developers to keep the device isolated in a room with blacked-out windows, tethered to a fixed object, and under lock and key (and of course, no tweeting about it). Apple’s secrecy requirements might seem a bit draconian, but the company’s covert strategy is an important part of its marketing plan; it’s the reason there’s so much excitement whenever Apple unveils a new product.

The whole point of NDAs is to protect trade secrets, which you’ll learn about in a sec. You probably won’t need Apple’s level of secrecy when developing a mobile app, but you should require some confidentiality to protect your business secrets. This chapter explains what you need to know about trade secrets and includes sample NDAs you can use when working with outside folks.

Trade Secrets: An Overview

Trade secrets include any confidential information that gives you an advantage over other developers, such as an idea for an Android app, a unique method of converting a PDF to html, or a collection of data about bankruptcy laws for use in a legal app.

Your trade secrets will likely include unpublished computer code, design specifications, business plans, and pricing and marketing strategies. In order for your info ...

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