Monday, 18 January 2016

When Someone Steals Your Big Idea

when someone steals your big idea
Treachery, deceit, theft,
sneakiness, poker face
Imagine the scenario: you share a fabulous business idea with a peer, ask for feedback and advice only to discover a few weeks later that this person has copied your idea and is already profiting from it.

Something similar can happen in the corporate world, where you do all the hard work, and someone else (usually your superior) takes all the credit.

While it is difficult to control this kind of thing, there are a few precautions you can take to avoid idea theft:

1. Be careful, who you trust. There are many wolves in sheep clothing out there. Even people you call friends can turn against you, especially if they work in the same field as you.

2. Send yourself a letter. In order to protect your copyright and intellectual property right, you can put all details of your idea in writing, add some sketches, photos, perhaps even a sample, and put all these items into an envelope or parcel. Then send it to yourself by recorded delivery. When you receive your mail, keep it sealed and protect the date stamp on the postage label. This will act as proof that you came up with the idea first, in case there is a lawsuit.

3. Before you share your idea with anybody, you can make the person sign a confidentiality agreement. Don't feel awkward about it, especially when you think your idea has the potential to make you serious money.

If you have been a victim of idea theft: 

First, have a quiet discussion with the perpetrator about the situation and establish all the facts. This includes providing the evidence that you are the originator of the idea they have taken on.

If this doesn't work, don't hesitate to make it public if you have proof. Nobody should get away with theft, but do avoid mud-slinging. State the facts on your blog without getting too emotionally involved. Let your readers decide for themselves.

Next time, keep quiet about your ideas. See advice number 1 above.

Don't be discouraged to go back to the drawing board and create something bigger and better. And please, keep your mouth shut about it until it's launched :)

And if you steal other people's ideas:

Before you do, consider collaboration. You could add a complimentary product or service that will benefit you both.

If you are still tempted, really try to stop right here. Let the originator of the idea get the credit, before you fall from grace.

You will be found out eventually, and your reputation will be tainted.

You will be taking a risk to get sued, especially if your victim has followed my advice above.

Stealing someone else's idea is bad karma and in the long-term won't make you feel good or win you more friends.

Your peers will know, but you don't know who of them knows. Does that make you feel uncomfortable? I hope so ;)

Why don't you just buckle down and generate your own effing ideas?

Idea theft is something that happens so often nowadays in the work place and amongst creative freelancers.

In a world, where it becomes more and more difficult to create something that truly hasn't been done before, for some people stealing seems to be the easy option to produce something. However, it rarely pays in the long-term.

Warmest wishes,


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