5 essential strategies for protecting your valuable ideas
Maybe you have the next million-dollar idea?
If you are someone that is always looking for and coming up with new ideas, then it is vital to protect your intellectual property. But how can you keep your ideas safe while you are attempting to work alongside others and set the development process into motion?
Here are five simple ways to protect your ideas from being stolen:
Have you ever heard the saying “CYA?” Basically, it means to cover yourself.
Documenting the who, what, when, where, and why factors that accompany conversations about your idea is the best way to create a tangible paper trail that can help investigators get to the bottom of the issue if in fact your idea is ever stolen. Use a digital format so that your entries are time-stamped.
Be careful who you share with
Sharing is essential: you probably will not get your idea off the ground without at least a little bit of collaboration. Be careful with your ideas, though, as sharing them in the wrong format or with the wrong individuals can lead to idea theft and leave you unprotected.
While it may feel difficult to keep your idea locked inside your head when you want nothing more than to shout “Eureka!” from the social media rooftop, it is best to think carefully about the people, businesses, and investors you share with.
You may be fine telling a trusted friend about your latest breakthrough, but you should research companies, clients, and investors before breaking your silence.
If you do not find anything worrisome while conducting research, check with your gut. How do you feel about revealing your idea? What drives the individual or company, and what are their motives? Have they been in the industry long? Are they well-known and trusted? Or might they be eager to grab onto your idea and present it as if it were their own?
Leverage the Power of the NDA
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are legally binding documents that protect intellectual property. Have associates, workers, and even investors sign an NDA before revealing your idea.
If they are reluctant, consider adding a confidentiality clause to a printed copy of your idea so that your intentions are clear, but so they do not have to sign anything.
Consider a patent, trademark, or copyright
Patents, trademarks, and copyrights offer legal protection for intellectual property. The three terms are not synonymous, and different locations have different laws concerning each.
In general, patents are used to protect inventions, trademarks are used to protect things like names and logos, and copyrights are used to protect works such as writing, visual art, music, and other creative products.
These protections require documentation and can serve as clear, official proof that your idea existed before you ever revealed it to anyone else and help to minimize disputes.
Do not put all of your cards on the table
If people have only part of your idea, they cannot very well steal it. Reveal only what is necessary to get the point across, and nothing more.
Focus on discussions about how your idea will meet a specific need, for example, but don’t reveal the nuts and bolts of the process. Understand that lenders and investors will probably need more information than potential clients since they are the ones who are putting money on the line.
It can take some time, effort, and perhaps a small investment to protect your idea from theft. The good news is that most lenders, investors, and clients are not likely to steal your intellectual property.
While you do want to use caution, it is important to reveal the necessary information. Do not be too afraid to open up to trusted individuals, particularly those who have the ability to help you take your plan to the next level.
Most of us need some help getting great ideas off the ground and all too often, staying silent means missing the opportunity of a lifetime.
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