Yours For The Taking: Protecting Your Idea: WebRef Update Feature
Yours For The Taking: Protecting Your Idea
[ * The XCorp name has been changed.]
"... XCorp*. has launched a useful Web site for British Columbians. Now finding the lowest gas prices is as simple clicking a mouse ...."
The radio announcer continued to sing the praises of this innovative idea, while I sat in shock. It was me who had contacted the gas companies with this idea, and they hadn't shown any interest. Then a bitter realization shook me....
XCorp had been on my e-mail list.
It is almost impossible to surf the Net, especially as an Internet Professional, and not get hit with "Great Ideas." You're just going about your business, and there it is - a niche, an unexplored opportunity that begs you to develop it. Your mind whirls with thoughts of domain names, Web designers, programmers, and investors. You start talking to people, sending e-mails...
STOP! You've just put your idea onto a serving platter, and gleefully sang "help yourself." Lets rewind the tape. You have a fantastic idea, then you:
1. Call your Lawyer. Ideas or "trade secrets" fall under the "intellectual property," laws, and they can't protect you if you do not have the proper documentation. If you can't afford an attorney, start educating yourself here:
World Intellectual Property Org.
2. Go ahead and obtain your estimates for Web development, but BE VAGUE. I have had potential clients give me full details of their new business. The first thing I do is warn them. All anyone needs to know at this point, is an outline of your basic needs. Once you have made your choice, get their confidentiality policies in writing, and have them sign a non-disclosure agreement.
An example of a non-disclosure agreement can be found here:
However, non-disclosure agreements come in many forms, and it is important to use the right one. Taking that into consideration, and the fact that the laws regarding the Internet are constantly changing, a lawyer specializing in e-commerce is a good investment.
Revised: November 16, 2000