How we protect your idea
You have got a great business idea and you want to know how to protect it. This article will provide you with a number of steps you can take to safeguard your new idea, as well as outlining what we do to protect your interests.
But let’s begin with the reality. There is no legal protection available for business ideas. The use of copyright, design rights, trademarks and patents only apply to the implementation of your idea and not the idea itself. That means that the only way to totally protect your business idea is to keep it secret.
Unfortunately, keeping your idea secret makes it rather useless. In order to receive business advice, have business plans drawn up, enquire about the production of a product or receive funding from an investor, you are going to have to reveal your idea at some point. After all, who would invest a large sum of money in an idea that is a mystery to them?
However, this does not mean you should throw your idea around carelessly. There are a number of steps you can take to prevent others from stealing your idea:
What You Can Do to Protect Your Idea
- Keep your idea on a ‘need to know’ basis. That means, only disclose your idea to trusted parties who need to know your idea in order to provide a service, for example: partners, investors or advisors.
- Disclose information in increasing amounts as your relationship with a service provider progresses. For example, if your idea is a secret recipe for a revolutionary new Health Bar, you might begin by revealing that your Health Bar is completely fat free, sugar free, totally organic and still tastes great. Later on, when it comes to making a deal, drawing up contracts and going into production you can then reveal the actual ingredients of your recipe to your trusted service providers.
- Keep a Business Idea notebook – keep a record of your thoughts about your idea and your plan of action as well as any and all conversations you have with others, especially potential business contacts, and be sure to date these conversations and detail them. Your dated notebook will act as a record to validate your progress if there are any future problems or discrepancies (or if someone tries to steal your idea). If someone is working independently from you to develop a similar idea, patent rights are granted to the person ‘most actively developing the product’, so your notebook will provide a useful record of your progress.
- Focus on the execution of your idea, because while another business can legally copy your idea, you can get legal protection for the implementation of your idea.
What ChiefAim Does to Protect Your Idea
- We never ask you to submit details of your idea electronically. Our Online Assessment Tool at stage one of the Business Idea Evaluation process is designed to assess your idea without knowing exactly what it is. It achieves this by analysing your idea against a number of key criteria, for example, your target market, your skills, estimated pricing, start-up costs and a number of other factors.
- If you pass the first stage of the Business Idea Assessment process outlined here, you are then invited to participate in stage two which involves a face to face interview or telephone conference. At this stage, we ask you to tell us your idea so that we are able to provide you with detailed feedback and advice. However, first we sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), which means that we legally agree to keep your idea entirely confidential.
- If your idea progresses to stage three and four of the Business Idea Evaluation process, it will be assessed by a small team of advisors relevant to your field. Our team of highly-qualified expert advisors are also required to sign Non-Disclosure Confidentiality Agreements. Ultimately, not one member of ChiefAim’s Board of Directors, Staff or Advisors will ever view your idea without signing this agreement. So you can be sure your idea is safe with us.
- Our business always uses secure encrypted emails so there is no risk of your idea being viewed by a computer hacker.
- For those who progress beyond the idea evaluation and move on to start their business, ChiefAim can help you with Patents, Trademarks and/or Copyrights. Read more here.
Why the Execution of Your Idea Counts the Most
The most successful entrepreneurs now widely agree that trying to bury your idea under a veil of secrecy, becoming paranoid about idea thieves or trying to create an artificial monopoly on your idea is not the correct way to approach this issue. Rather, the most successful industry leaders maintain that focusing on a successful launch and execution is what leads to market success. The YouTube founders were certainly not the first to think of the idea of a website with videos on it; Federal Express was not patentable; and Amazon had an idea that could be easily replicated and copied. Yet all three managed to become ultra-successful through their means of execution – they knew they had to move fast, market right and gain visibility quickly in order to pre-empt the competition. Therefore, getting your idea up and running, getting it working, getting marketing and getting on with business is the best way to get in the game and to stay at the top.