Career Advice

How to Protect Your Ideas from Getting Stolen

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Many first-time startups have a hard time worrying about whether third-parties or competitors will steal their ideas. Turning your vision into reality is not easy, especially in the modern age, where patency issues are on the rise. This is not easy to process since you must have used plenty of time and resources, brainstorming and working hard to actualize your million-dollar idea. Our society is characterized by connectivity, so it’s no wonder that ideas are stolen, both intentionally and accidentally. This can happen anywhere, in your workplace, or even among trusted acquaintances and family. If you don’t know how to protect your idea from being stolen, you’ve come to the right place. Please read our guide below to understand how you can take appropriate action to create your intellectual property strategy and protect your ideas from being stolen.

1.   Seek Help from a Lawyer

You can get a lawyer to examine your idea to determine which aspects can be patented, copyrighted, or trademarked. If you have staff working under you, it would be best to put them under strict written non-disclosure and non-compete agreements. According to law experts from, this ensures that your employees can’t steal or sell any proprietary knowledge. If your idea gets exposed, it could give away your competitive prowess. Many people don’t realize that the law, by default, gives you a copyright to anything you create. This means that if your employee makes a copyrightable piece of intellectual property, they own the copyrights. If you don’t have the necessary documents, your employee could walk away with vital assets or information. Additionally, these documents are also helpful if you want to increase trust between co-founders or between employees and founders.

2.   Publicize Your Ownership

Many people try to avoid attention instead of flagging their ideas at an early stage. Experts recommend using the available symbols in your media and marketing alerts. Doing this helps to make your ownership known to the public. You can also think about adding patent and design numbers later. However, it would be best to always keep on top of renewals. This means paying the required renewal fees. This ensures continued protection of your patents, designs, and trademarks. If you fail to pay the requisite fee on time, your registered rights will expire.

Many startups have a hard time worrying about whether third-parties or competitors will steal their ideas. Turning your vision into reality is not easy, especially when patency issues are on the rise. Click To Tweet

3.   Should I Patent or Not Patent?

If you want to protect your idea, we would advise applying for a patent. Even though you cannot patent an idea, you can patent a business method if it falls under the specified criteria; this applies to any business idea. Recognized patents include design patents, utility patents, and plant patents. The patent you use depends on the nature of your innovation or idea. If you have a business idea that is less or more abstract, applying for a utility patent will do the work. This patent is for any new and useful process or machine.

Additionally, it may also cover a new article by a manufacturer. If you’re living in the USA, USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office) has specific requirements for the patent you’re applying for. You should ensure your idea is novel, well-documented, and non-obvious.

4.   Document Everything

It will help if you keep records of all the work you’re doing on your project. This means storing them in more than one place. If you’re attending a meeting where you’re pitching your idea, you can record the sessions if it’s allowed. Also, ensure that someone in the forum states the meeting’s date and time at the beginning of the recording. Additionally, ensure you write down notes in every session you attend. Write a timeline as you progress with your project and document every change in an idea or project. If you’ve made a specific change, record yourself with it, and store a copy of the recording. You can also place copies of blueprints or plans in a sealed envelope and have them notarized. Ensure the notary dates her signature and never open the envelope unless you’re in court. This way, the notarized signature means you had the idea or plan as of the date specified.

5.   Digital or Physical Protection

Even if your ideas are already protected with an agreement or copyright, you don’t want them lying around. Anyone with access could attempt to steal the concept despite your protections. This could land you in lawsuits, which might be time-consuming and expensive to handle. It will help if you avoid litigations at any possible cost because of the expense. This is why protecting your idea through a digital vault or a physical safe is a good idea. You can research companies that offer services in digital protection. These companies will also provide you with insights on ways to protect your business ideas.

6.   Invest in Complex Ideas That Are Hard to Copy

While this might seem counterintuitive, it’s right on a strategic level. If your idea is simple and can be reverse engineered, even the best legal protection in the world will not help you. To emphasize this, any idea can be reverse engineered to some level. The focus isn’t an idea that can never be copied, but rather, having a hard-to-replicate concept. You will have the upper hand since this means your competitors will have a hard time catching up.

7.   Trademark

Having a trademark is also another way to protect your idea. This serves as an extra layer of protection since a business’ name is tied to its ideas. Having a trademark also shields you from any legal issues should they arise. A trademark helps to distinguish specific services or products from products or services which come from other sources. The trademark serves as written proof that your idea was under development at a specified time. The dates are also vital since they pinpoint the exact date your idea came to be. This will come in handy if someone decides to dispute this.

The odds that someone could steal your idea are minimal, though it can happen. However, this is not something that should give you sleepless nights. Following the steps mentioned in our guide should give you some peace of mind. This means you can share your idea with potential people who can turn your vision into reality. Finally, it will help if you consult a lawyer who can guarantee the protection of your idea.

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