Idea Theft – Can be a Tough Road
Someone stole your idea, and you want payment for it, or credit for it, or
both. This can be a tough road. (about
avoiding idea theft)
Type 1 - looking for the link:
It was your idea, and now its out there.
Therefore there must be a link between your idea and them.
You told X who might know Y who might have worked at Z
Or you wrote to A.A. and the letter was lost in the mail,
or misplaced …
Type 1 - solutions:
Someone had the same idea later (it happens), and if you
did not protect the idea (for instance by filing a patent application)
there is no recourse.
Someone had the same idea earlier (if its out there within
a few months of your brain-storm, earlier is likely because “out there”
takes lots of time), there is obviously no recourse – you are second.
Either of the above, and the idea is old (for instance
findable in the patent literature), there is of course no recourse – and a
professional patent search can confirm it was not new to begin with (it
happens, a lot).
Someone did steal it from you – but since the other options
are viable (at times more viable), and the third can be checked with a
patent search, start with a patent search.
Type 2 – link is clear because you told them:
You gave the idea to the company’s marketing manager over
You demonstrated a prototype to the company’s sales
You mailed a sample to the company’s division Vice
Type 2 – solutions:
If you have a patent, and they are actually infringing one
or more claims of the patent, you have recourse via a patent infringement
lawsuit (and contingency-based actions are possible).
If the idea was artistic or literary, and the idea was not
merely in your head but had been affixed in a tangible medium (painted,
sculpted, written), and preferably also a copyright registration, you have
recourse via a copyright infringement lawsuit (and contingency-based
actions are possible).
If you have no patent, or no tangible-medium affixation, or
no copyright registration, some (not all) jurisdictions might entertain
alternative lawsuits, for instance an implied contract lawsuit, but this
can be a difficult matter – there typically are who said what, when and to
whom issues, and issues regarding whether it was sufficiently new to
justify any recovery, or merely a generic (old hat) idea to begin with.
Without in-hand patent or copyright protection, either type should start
with a good search to objectively determine the novelty of the idea before
investing any further time or effort.
other topics -
patents vs trade
entry-level patent applications,
patent it or not,
contact the firm
(all contact modes)
or call 312.419.8055
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