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Seven ways to protect your ideas. Or is it eight?

News   •   Feb 21, 2017 08:02 SGT

How to protect your brilliant idea from being stolen? Technology writer Mehul Rajput has given the issue some thought, specifically as it relates to smart phone apps. He sees these as the latest virtual "picks and shovels" for Creators to mine the treasured seams of internet gold and quickly turn a dream into a fortune. But he has this warning.

"If you, too, are an entrepreneur in the area of mobile apps, you not only need to come up with a brilliant idea to implement, but also endeavor to protect that idea from being stolen," he writes.

"In fact, your mobile app idea can be nicked by anyone who gets the slightest idea about it including your business consultants, developers working on your project and of course, by your competitors if the word gets to them."

Rajput, who also heads MindInventory, a mobile app development services company headquartered in Ahmedabad, India, offers seven key strategies to protect an idea. It is an excellent checklist relevant to all Creators.

The list includes using trademarking, applying for a patent and registering for copyright – though, as Rajput notes, it is a major drawback that "you can’t copyright an idea".

Also on the list are using non-disclosure and non-compete agreements. The practical use of these protection options, however, will depend very much on the first two points Rajput makes: to what degree you can share information selectively and choose professional relationships carefully.

Both these strategies make perfect sense. But for Creators who must often pitch ideas to prospective clients, the degree of control over such choices can be extremely limited.

A pitch is, after all, often the first step towards establishing a business relationship based on trust and mutual respect. Asking a prospective client to sign a non-disclosure or other type of complex protective legal agreement might derail the relationship at the outset, given the likelihood they will feel obliged to first consult legal advisors, with all the associated costs and time delays. It might even be taken as an indication of distrust on your part. It could well mean you losing the opportunity to secure a lucrative contract.

Which is why we think Rajput’s advice, while excellent, is incomplete. There is an eighth method missing from the list: PitchMark your idea! Put extra weight behind your moral claim to ownership where legal options provide limited or no cover.

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