Defend your idea from lazy opportunists – a guide

The power of an idea is strong these days, as more people than ever have the ability to create amazing things.

Unfortunately, there are many loafers out there seeking to profit off your hard work by taking your idea and running with it.

Because of this, doers must be vigilant against these thieves, whether they see a copy of your invention on your desk or on your website.

While jacking an idea from another person is technically legal in many instances, it’s hard to get scummier than that.

Allen Hartman, an intellectual property lawyer could tell you countless sob stories about people who had a life changing idea that would have made them millions, only to have an interloper make off with their idea.

Avoid this fate by taking the steps listed below.

1) Learn about what trademarks, patents, and copyrights do

Your first step involves education: before you can shield yourself from IP (intellectual property) thieves, you need to learn about the various forms of protection available to you.

Copyrights, trademarks, and patents: you may only need one of these, of all of them. Once you know what they are, the next steps will become easier to understand.

Copyright offers protection to creative works like a song, trademarks defend things like catchphrases and designs, while patents confer ownership of an invention to a person or corporation.

2) Figure out what you need to protect 

After doing your research, apply for the IP protections you will need. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are all applied for through governmental bodies, so gather the necessary paperwork and begin the process of gathering all the data you will need to fill in the forms.

3) Hire an IP attorney

Figuring out the basics of the three protective designations is not enough to fully protect your product or process.

For that, you’ll need an IP attorney.

These professionals will advise you on how to close legal loopholes that slimy folks can use to scoop your idea from out of your hands.

4) Make every person that could see your idea sign a non-disclosure agreement

During the life cycle of your business, somebody will eventually be within sight/touching distance of your big idea.

Most people are good, but some aren’t. To protect yourself against pilferers, having a rock solid NDA (non-disclosure agreement) is vital.

Laying out legal consequences for betrayal, this document will give you the legal grounds to sue someone if they end up stealing your idea or if they leak it to a third party.

5) File patents quickly when you have a minimum viable product/process

When your creative process reaches the point where you have basic outline of what could become a million-dollar idea, slap a patent on it ASAP.

In the USA, the law gives you a full year to make changes to a patent application after filing it. What this means is that you don’t have to slave over an application in an effort to get every detail right.

Get a rough draft out into the open, and then make changes in the 12 months that follow.