You are excited about your unique business idea and things are looking positive. But, have you got your ideas, prototypes and business models protected? A competitor can easily steal an idea and pull it off as their own.
Although litigation funding is available to take on this type of case, should it arise, it is a very lengthy process. It will require a lot of your time which is better spent on growing your business.
So, here are 5 ways for you to protect your business idea against theft:
Keep Your Cards Close
Play your cards close to your chest and try not to reveal too much. This is difficult when it is necessary to pitch to investors, new clients and potential employees. Remember that it is only necessary to convey the idea and not the “nuts and bolts” that hold it together. Investors are likely to want to know the most detail, but then they are the group that are the least likely to steal your idea as they have an industry reputation to uphold.
Non Disclosure Agreements
Use non disclosure agreements when dealing with new staff, clients and suppliers. This probably won’t wash with the investors though. A risk that you may have to take as they do hold the purse strings. Remember they want to make money from your idea, not steal it.
Patent Your Idea
You can apply for a patent to protect your idea, although this can be a very costly and lengthy process. Once you have submitted your application, your idea is protected for the first year, but it can take up to 33 months until the full patent is awarded. Make sure you do plenty of research and ensure that your idea is actually an original before applying and spending money on your application.
Trademark Your Business/Product Name
Trademarking the name of your product or service will enable you to take legal action against anyone that uses the name without your permission. Although a start up company may not be able to afford legal fees this is where third party litigation funding can come into play. Particularly if it is a big brand or corporation that have used your name.
Finally, document everything to make sure you have a paper trail of your concept from its humble beginnings. Keep written details of all meetings where you have disclosed details of your business. All of this documentation could come in handy should a litigation case present itself.
The chances of someone actually stealing your idea are slim, but better to be safe than sorry and implement some of the above ways to protect your business idea.
If you have had any experience of the patent or trademarking process we would love to hear about it. We’d love to receive your comments.