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The Law Office of Joan I. Norek

        Intellectual Property

            Chicago, Illinois

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About Pages

Who Protects Copyrights
Copyright Registrations
Disclosure Documents
Domain Names
Idea Theft
Idea Theft Avoidance
Intellectual Property
IP Symbols
Inventors and Assignees
Names as Trademarks
Naming and Branding
Patent Applications
Meaningful Patent Protection
Patent Infringement
Patent Interferences
Patent Marking
Patent Reexaminations
Patent Term
Patent vs Trade Secret
Patents vs Trademarks
Patenting Business Strategies
Provisional Applications
Provisional vs Non-provisional
Public Domain vs Patents
More on Trademarks
Trademark Infringement
Trademark Cancellations
Trademark Oppositions
Trademark Registrations
Trademark Registration Process
Work For Hire


This-or-That Pages

Copyright vs Patent
Patent or Trademark It
Patent or Trade Secret It
Trade Secrets after Patent Filing
Provisional vs Non-provisional






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 company …

  • 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 the telephone.

  • You demonstrated a prototype to the company’s sales manager.

  • You mailed a sample to the company’s division Vice President.


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 - about patents, patents vs trade secrets, corporate patent applications, entry-level patent applications, patent it or not, patent ready, patent myths

questions, inquiries - contact the firm (all contact modes) or call 312.419.8055

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The Law Office of Joan I. Norek
25 E. Washington Street, Suite 1400
Chicago, Illinois  60602
Tel.  312.419.8055   Fax 312.236.6686
Contact the Firm


Patents • Chemical Patents • Trademarks • Copyrights • Searches, Applications

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Copyright © 2004 - 2014 Joan I. Norek, The Law Office of Joan I. Norek 
All rights reserved.
noreklaw, noreklaw.com and PatentAttitude are trademarks and service marks of Joan I. Norek, Chicago, Illinois.

Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship.  This website provides information and resources but is neither legal advice nor a substitute for the legal advice of an IP attorney.  Retentions are subject to the discretion of the firm.
This website was designed and constructed by Joan I. Norek.