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How to Prevent Someone From Stealing Your Ideas

Do you want to share your unique business ideas with someone who you think might be able to help you out but you are worried that they might steal it? You can still share your ideas with potential investors but you need to put protective measures in place, like a non-disclosure agreement.

 

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You shouldn’t let someone just steal your ideas because you approached them for funding or partnership. It’s not just wolves of Wall Street that you should be afraid of when building a business. You should also be afraid of those who might steal you ideas, trade secrets, registered patent, etcetera.

There are harmless looking business executives, friends, colleagues, startups, entrepreneurs, investors, even lawyers that won’t hesitate in stealing your ideas if they have the slightest chance to do so.

That’s why you need to protect your ideas from anyone who you may have need to share it with. In Nigeria stealing business idea is not really new. In fact, people steal ideas without consequences. Probably because most people don’t even know what to do about it. Or comply because most people are not protecting their business ideas

Your Next Big Thing

Every entrepreneur believes their ideas are the next big thing. While in essence, startup ideas are worth nothing of financial value. If not, there would have been a marketplace for selling ideas to the highest bidder.

That’s not to mean that you shouldn’t protect your ideas from being stolen. Although, most startup ideas are too simple to even be stolen. It doesn’t change the fact that those simple ideas might end up becoming billion dollar ideas when implemented.

Having an idea doesn’t equal to the world’s next big thing. It might seem to you but it doesn’t always translate to that. Your ideas are not money. So it cannot be purchased. But if you think you have found an idea that could change the world, do the needful and protect it from anyone you may share it with.

How Ideas Are Stolen

You may think, what’s there to steal from you? Well, I want you to know there’s a lot that can be stolen from you in business today. Even though startup ideas have little or no value, if the ideas found their way into the hands of someone with ability to implement them, they will be worth millions, if not billions in no time. Facebook is an example of a stolen idea.

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Dave Schools shared some insightful truth about stolen ideas that you may need to read. Also, Dave shared that there are two likely ways Ideas can be stolen from you. And below are Dave’s two observations.

  • Ideas are most likely to be stolen from someone with competency in the field. The risk is in the details. If you reveal all your work to someone who fully understands and has the skill to create your vision, then you may be putting your idea at risk.
  • Ideas are most likely to be stolen when action has already taken place — there is a vision and plan on paper. Several examples showed ideas being stolen when a plan-of-action, proof-of-concept, and research were attached to it. If you give someone a treasure map don’t be mad when they follow it.

Who’s Likely To Steal Your Ideas?

The people who steal your ideas don’t just walk through the doors and steal them. Most times business ideas are stollen by people you trusted and shared your ideas with them, earthier because you needed financial support for the business or you wanted to get advise from them, if they are mentors.

So, the likely people to steal your ideas are not some broke fella on your street. Or some guy you are friends with that doesn’t even know how you are going to achieve such big dream. Rather, it’s those experts you consulted. The banker you reached out for financial help. The lawyer that is supposed to protect you from business risks.

These high value stealers are most times overlooked when you think of when you fear your ideas might be stolen from you. And the reason they are more dangerous is because they have what you may lack and the most likely the required experience to make your idea successful.

What Is a Non-Disclosure Agreement?

Investopedia says that a non-disclosure agreement as a legally binding contract that establishes a confidential relationship. It’s an agreement that involves a party or parties signing to agree that sensitive information they may obtain will not be made available to any other party.

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This kind of agreement is common with business negotiations with other businesses that involves the disclosure of sensitive information that belongs to one of the parties or both. A non-disclosure agreement allows the parties to share these information without risk or fear of lose of sensitive material getting into the hands of a competing business. It’s also called a mutual non-disclosure agreement.

Tips On Non-Disclosure Agreement:

  1. An NDA acknowledges a confidential relationship between two or more parties and protects the information they share from disclosure to outsiders.
  2. The NDA is common before discussions between businesses about potential joint ventures.
  3. Employees are often required to sign NDAs to protect an employer’s confidential business information.

Benefits of Non Disclosure Agreement:

A non-disclosure agreement has benefits for both parties that signs it. But mostly for the party that has something to protect. The two point benefits of a non-disclosure agreement includes:

  • Protection from disclosure of intellectual property, which includes trade secrets, proprietary information, and other confidential information.
  • More legal protections and options if the party does infringe on a patent or otherwise use protected information.

By asking the parties involved to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), it’s like oat taking. They are signing a contract which states that they cannot talk about your idea to anyone else or use it themselves without your permission.

Steps To Write Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

A non-disclosure agreement is most commonly signed when the parties are interested in entering into a business relationship. Here are points to actually write one.

  1. Identify your trade secrets or confidential information.p that need to be protected.
  2. Decide if you need to share confidential information and why
  3. Protect confidential information before signing an NDA.

But how binding is a non-disclosure agreement? The confidentiality is binding on parties involved. And that also comes with some consequences. However, not only can NDA provide monetary compensation in the event of a breach, it also provide a kind of injunction relief to stop any further breaches from occurring.

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And if this agreement is binding, how long does it last? The standard use for non-disclosure agreements ranges from 1 to 5 years, depending on the nature of the transaction.

The consequences for violation of NDAs are not actually specified in a non-disclosure contract. It’s clear that you can sue for the breach of contract, but there are no stipulated punishment for violation.

And in a case of violation, you are required to proof the cost of the violation and demand for a specific remedy, which has to be agreed to and approved by a competent court. But surely, it doesn’t include jail term, but usually resolved with financial compensations.

Conclusion

If you own a business, you can protect it today using NDAs for your employees that are vested with certain responsibilities that involves interaction with core secrets of your business. This protects you from these employees revealing trade secrets to a competitor upon resigning from your company or sharing sensitive documents they are privy to within a certain period after leaving the comoany.

And in this era of email and social media, documents can be transmitted faster from one person to another. That also puts sensitive business documents at risk. You may need to monitor every activity of your employees during and after work hour.

Also, you need to involve the services of an attorney to help you prepare the agreement and possibly oversee the signing as well.

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