Some of Xerox's top application builders want to ensure that their investment in developing groundbreaking tools isn't de-valued by a wave of imitations or duplicates.
"You don't want to spend tens of thousands of dollars building something and then have somebody look under the hood of it and go, 'Hmm, I bet I could make a lot of money with that thing,'" said Patrick Leone, founder and CEO of Bloomington, Ind.-based MidAmerica Technology.
Leone said he'd like to see Xerox's Personalized Application Builder (PAB) program have a provision where apps that make it into the studio are protected through a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Leone said MidAmerica had spent tons of money with trademark companies and on NDAs with teeth to safeguard apps that catch on such as the company's SignMe one-step signing app.
"You want to have a forum where everyone can benefit from sharing their ideas, but you also want to be protected as you're sharing your ideas," Leone said Wednesday during the 2017 Xerox PAB Forum in Webster, N.Y.
Xerox makes channel partners sign all the right documents such as NDAs and requires solution providers to conduct their business in a certain way to be part of the PAB, according to Rui Ferreira, director and general manager of the company's Solutions Business Unit.
"We have both legal protection and some software protection for the partner's IP," Ferreira told CRN during the PAB Forum. "If we were ever to detect partners trying to use an app to go into someone else's business, they'll be booted out of the program very quickly."
Just-Tech made a promise a long time ago to pursue a licensing arrangement if another partner made a desirable app such as MidAmerica's SignMe tool, according to Josh Justice, president of the La Plata, Md.-based company. Justice encouraged other solution providers to pursue licensing agreements rather than investing resources in a push to recreate apps that are already available to Xerox partners.
"Look to other partners, learn from them, grow with them, but don't steal something they've already done," Justice said. "If we're just stealing each other's stuff, then we're just spinning our own wheels and we're not moving the ball forward."
When someone builds an app, Ferreira said Xerox actually receives the code, checks it for security, and digitally signs off on the code. More often than not, though, Ferreira said the IP is actually revealed in the app's capability, with many different ways of programming it likely to exist.
"It's not like someone can just go in and pry open the IP that you may have," Ferreira said.