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I am going to be working on a software product and I want to use overseas developers to help build, however I am not sure how/if I can make a real agreement with them with regards to protecting IP.

I've been outsourcing for years now, however I've usually done the work locally in the US when it came to IP protection, if clients were very concerned about it. However, in reality when you're dealing internationally much of this is still based on the honor system. So for a more serious project, how would one protect IP with developers from Asia when you really don't have any method of monitoring or enforcing it?

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I think the response is: You can't. This is an issue even the biggest corporations have difficulty with.

From what I know, what makes it hard to protect your IP in foreign country is:

1) The value of your work

2) The capacity to sue if there is any infringement

3) The relationship of your country and the country where the infringement is done

Why I say you can't is because in some case, the value of the copied work needs to be above $10,000 and then it's a question of country vs country applicable laws. And then, even if the other country has a treaty with yours about intellectual property, you can easily imagine the fees you'd need to pay to hire a lawyer or a team of lawyers to sue the company/person who has stolen your IP.

If you're working on a very exclusive product, your best protection is to market it and make it a #1 before outsourcing the work in other countries or to simply pay more and hire people in your own country.

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I heard about a "trick" that some software company use to protect ideas or IP when they outsource.

It is about giving small tasks to do so that this task alone is not representing anything recognizable of the whole idea behind it.

For example you can split the work in many small tasks (if possible), then give task #1 to a company and instruct them about the input that they will have and the desired output, and the technology to use. Then go on with all the rest and when ready you will put all togheter in the project.

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