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Is Offshore Development a Threat to Your Intellectual Property?

Read Time: 2 minutes

Are you considering offshore development for your next app? When you look at the hourly rates many overseas developers offer it may seem like a good idea, but there’s more to consider than just dollars per hour. There are also time zone issues to overcome, cultural differences that can affect the user interface and word usage, possible release delays in non-U.S. countries and fluctuating exchange rates that keep hourly costs in flux. But, even more important, there are big legal differences between the United States and other countries. These differences can put the ownership of your app and the underlying intellectual property at risk.

Non-disclosure Agreements May Not Apply

If you decide to use offshore development, you should have the team sign a non-disclosure agreement first, in order to prevent them from disclosing any business information they gather while planning and writing the app, such as database structure, plans for future product development, trade secrets and other intellectual property. However, these agreements may not be enforceable outside the United States, leaving you with no legal recourse if your proprietary information is copied or shared with competitors and the general public.

Copyright? What Copyright?

Another important part of the legal agreement between you and the company you choose to create your mobile app is that full copyright and ownership rights transfer to your company completely once the final payment is made. However, not all countries honor U.S. copyrights. This means that you may not end up owning the code that was written to run your app.

Not having ownership is an issue itself, but it can also make completing updates and adding functionality extremely challenging. If you don’t own the code, you won’t have the access to complete updates as needed. Because some small updates can be done in-house, it’s important to make sure that you have full ownership and access.

Offshore Development May Weaken Security

Many security protocols are implemented to comply with national laws, so using a contractor who isn’t familiar with U.S. laws will make fulfilling legal obligations more arduous. Depending on the sensitivity of the data you’re sharing, this could be a small concern or a major one that could land you in regulatory hot water.

Outsourcing Your Development is Still an Option

Outsourcing your app development may be a smart choice for your project if you’re prepared to face the obstacles. As you know, it’s challenging to build an app as quickly as a dedicated team of developers when you’re dealing with the day-to-day realities of running your business. When deciding whether to go with a company in the U.S. or overseas, weigh the risks and rewards. If you’d like to learn more about keeping your intellectual property safe with domestic development, contact 7T for a free consultation.

Based in Dallas, 7T maintains regional offices located in Chicago and Houston. We work with clients worldwide in a variety of industries, so if you’re in search of an innovative development partner, we invite you to work with us today.


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Lacey Williams-McGhee

Lacey Williams is a marketing professional and Harvard graduate student living in the great state of Texas. When she's not working at 7T's headquarters, she can be found on the next flight to the Bahamas, hanging out with her husband and fluffy golden retriever, or studying! Lacey earned a B.A. in journalism from Baylor University. Sic 'em!


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