Protect | 21 October 2017

How do I protect my idea when sharing it?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Generally speaking, in business, people aren’t out to steal your ideas but it can happen and there is nothing worse than seeing a competitor business successfully launching and profiting from a new product or service which was your idea first.

But won’t I need to share my idea to grow my business?

As a business there will be times when you need to tell others about your ideas (for example, potential investors or developers who you might want assistance from in turning your idea into something real). It’s important to think about what information it is necessary for you to divulge to these businesses or individuals. It’s also a good idea to understand who these businesses or individuals are and what their reputation (if any) is in the market as this may provide a level of comfort as to how professional and honest they will be in their dealings with you.

What should I do if I need to share my idea?

As a rule: don’t give away more information about your idea than is essential.

Also consider the following:

•  Confidentiality agreements: If you need to have more detailed conversations or don’t know the other party who you are sharing the information with then look to put in place a confidentiality agreement (also known as a non-disclosure agreement or NDA).

If you’d like to know more about confidentiality agreements, please see Confidentiality Agreements: what you need to know.

Click here to generate your ScaleUp Confidentiality Agreement (One Way).

Click here to generate your ScaleUp Confidentiality Agreement (Mutual).

•  Employees: Don’t forget to ensure your employees are also made aware of the confidential nature of your idea and get them and your business partners to sign confidentiality agreements to prevent them from disclosing information to others.

•  Third parties: Make sure when you talk to people you emphasise the confidential nature of the information you are sharing and when presenting or sharing documentation ensure that presentations or documentation are clearly marked “confidential”.

•  Record-keeping: It’s really important to keep written records of everything (the date you developed your idea, details of any conversations you have had with others, dates and content of pitches or presentations you have given and who they were given to etc.) as this may help further down the line if you are faced with a dispute about who first came up with the idea.

That’s fine for people I choose to share my idea with but what about others?

There may be other forms of protection you can rely on as well in the form of intellectual property rights. These rights can include copyright, patents, trademarks and trade secrets.

If you’d like to know more, please see How can intellectual property rights protect my idea? for information about intellectual property rights.

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If you’d like to know more, please see PROTECT my business for information on intellectual property, technology and more.