As your business grows, more people will be learning about it and hearing about it. Think of the number of people that you might have already pitched to in an effort to get finance or support, for example. New clients will hear about certain details of the company, as well a potential new employees during the interview and recruitment process. So there are a number of people or situations where information about your ideas and plans could be revealed. So naturally, there is a concern for our ideas and the fact that they could get stolen. Idea theft is a real thing and can be a big problem for businesses. You want to have things in place that can stop a competitor from taking your unique selling point and making it their new idea. If they ended up rolling it out before you, then they would be the ones doing the celebrating.
The vast majority of people aren’t going to be out to steal your career. However, it is always going to be a possibility. There are also many people that look to steal things from you online, rather than just hearing it through word of mouth. So if you have noticed that things have been stolen from your website, or content has been copied word for word, then there are things that you can do. Due to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), you are well within your rights to issue a takedown notice when copyright of content has been infringed. So do look into how to issue a DMCA takedown notice, then you can be prepared for the worst. But back to the original topic, how do you stop people from stealing your idea in the first place? Here are a few steps to take:
Stop Revealing Too Much
The simple and straightforward answer is to not reveal too much in the first place. Just look to reveal or share what is absolutely necessary to share. Say you are pitching to a client, for example, they only need to know the information that will get the idea or point across. You don’t need to share more information than that or go into specific facts or stats about your business or product and how it all works. The only exception to this is that investors are likely to want to know the proper ins and outs of the business. They need the stats and facts in order to make an informed decision about investing. Which is why you should have a few other things in place too.
Use Non-Disclosure Agreements
Having a non-disclosure agreement form (NDA) for people to sign, is a great way to protect your idea before you reveal your idea or plan to other people. So for investors or clients, even for contractors or new employees, an NDA could be really useful. Some investors might scoff at this idea, though, as they see it as you needing their help. So it could be better to include something about confidentiality in the business plan that they will get a copy of. An NDA could still be used for other people, though.
Apply For a Patent
Depending on your business or product, then you need to think about getting a patent in place. Even if it isn’t all approved right away, having a patent pending can be just as good when it comes to people taking the idea for themselves. It can be reassuring to clients or investors too. They want to know that no one else can start doing what you’re doing the very next day, for instance.
Use a Trademark
Having your business or brand with a trademark just gives you an extra layer of legal protection. A business name or brand is going to be closely related to your product or service, so it can help reduce idea theft massively. If there were any kind of dispute, you will have the date that you applied for a trademark versus the other businesses claims. So it can help you to prove your case and get the infringement stopped. Hopefully, you won’t have to use it, but it is worth getting to help protect your brand and your business.
One of the key things is just to keep dates and documents of everything relating to your business. Invoices, bills, statements, and plans can all go to proving that your idea was around before anyone else’s. So keep on top of your paperwork and make sure you get copies of it all too.