How Do I Prevent My Business Partner From Stealing My Ideas?

by James Liberty 28 replies
This could be the most important question
I've ever asked in this forum:

I recently thought of a couple good
business ideas... but I'll probably need
a partner to pull them off.

That said, how can I share my business
ideas with a potential partner... without
having them steal my ideas and run with
them (on their own)?

Is there any way that I can protect
myself from this?
#main internet marketing discussion forum #business #ideas #joint venture #partner #partnership #prevent #stealing
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  • Profile picture of the author Keith Boisvert
    A non-disclosure/no compete type of legal agreement?

    That's the only thing I can think of anyway

    keith
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    • Profile picture of the author lindajess
      Originally Posted by Keith Boisvert View Post

      A non-disclosure/no compete type of legal agreement?

      That's the only thing I can think of anyway

      keith
      I think Keith is right. I think the only way to do that is to enter into the partenership with some kind of a legal agreement. If he/she does steal your ideas, then you can sue them or any money that you both have put into it becomes yours...I don't know logistics about these things, but I believe that it's kind of like a pre-nup before you get married...

      Something like that.
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  • Profile picture of the author myob
    I have that problem frequently with new employees. Have them sign a legally binding non-disclosure/no compete agreement.
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    • Profile picture of the author Lance K
      Originally Posted by myob View Post

      I have that problem frequently with new employees. Have them sign a legally binding non-disclosure/no compete agreement.
      Legally binding non compete? Good luck with that.
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    • Profile picture of the author Floyd Fisher
      Originally Posted by myob View Post

      I have that problem frequently with new employees. Have them sign a legally binding non-disclosure/no compete agreement.
      I agree...have a lawyer write that up so it's airtight.
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      • Profile picture of the author David Chambless
        I completely agree with getting ndas' signed. The trick is enforcing one if it's violated.
        Your law suit will be a two to five year ordeal thru hell. It will cast you a fortune to pursue, and your sanity. (And maybe your business, your spouse, family, etc.)

        I learned to go into deals with everything I can get signed just to try to protect myself.

        Then I learned to assume that I'm gonna get burned one way or the other, and to minimize the damage. See, you can't stop betrayal from happening. You can decide what it will cost you, and you can do that at the start.

        Once I started working from that perspective, I haven't been burned once. Not saying it won't happen at some point, but for now, it's working fine.

        Sign me,

        Been there, Done that, Gave the lawyers the shirt!

        David
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  • Profile picture of the author Marian Berghes
    get a partner you can trust, like some1 you know abit
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    • Profile picture of the author bobsstuff
      "Legal Agreement" means LAWYER and contract drawn up for you, not some form you find on the internet.
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      Bob Hale
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      • Profile picture of the author Tiger
        Hello James,

        You said "ideas", which leads me to believe you have more than
        one idea.


        Dont tell your prospective business partner you have more
        than one idea and dont let on that you may have more than one.



        Tell him only one of your ideas, then see if he is faithful to the NDA
        you should already be inclined to have with him/her.



        If, after they get your idea, and you can not prove they
        are breaking the NDA, I would feel a little safer to share
        some more "ideas" with them at a later date.



        /Steve
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        • Profile picture of the author VegasVince
          In all honesty, when ever I look at taking on a partner for anything...whether a business venture...or hot chick to spend the weekend with.....

          I always ask myself this question: If shit hits the fan and somehow we got arrested.....and put into seperate rooms by the police....

          Would this "partner" of mine keep his or her yap shut?

          Or would they sing like a canary?

          I'm dead serious. Because those who sing.....aint gettin' in my bed...or my business....they are NOT even getting the chance to.

          Sometimes what works on the street works as well in IM...when properly applied.


          xxx Vegas Vince

          Life and Marketing...Behind The 8-Ball.
          November 2008.
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          • Profile picture of the author graphicsgenie
            Originally Posted by VegasVince View Post

            In all honesty, when ever I look at taking on a partner for anything...whether a business venture...or hot chick to spend the weekend with.....

            I always ask myself this question: If shit hits the fan and somehow we got arrested.....and put into seperate rooms by the police....

            Would this "partner" of mine keep his or her yap shut?

            Or would they sing like a canary?

            I'm dead serious. Because those who sing.....aint gettin' in my bed...or my business....they are NOT even getting the chance to.

            Sometimes what works on the street works as well in IM...when properly applied.


            xxx Vegas Vince

            Life and Marketing...Behind The 8-Ball.
            November 2008.
            Vince, there is certainly method in your madness ;o)

            James, what kind of partners are you looking for, what fields

            Cheers
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            • Profile picture of the author JonnyAndrews
              I think the most effective way to curb this behavior would be to kill the first one you catch doing it. Make it public and really over the top gruesome.

              That should send a strong enough message for the problem not to happen all that often.

              And yes, I'm kidding.

              However... the idea stands.

              Take legal action against the first one who does this but be so over the top about it you shock the hell out of anyone who would dare try again.

              I guarantee you'd have days where you'd walk into hushed conversations around the water coolers about "did you hear about what they did to chuck... they say even a surgeon couldn't find that guys foot..."
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              • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
                Dude,

                Get a partner you can trust. If you have to worry about every idea you spout off, you're not going to get the feedback you need. All my partners rock and I can tell them any idea I have and I'm not worried the least.

                Besides, I'm an idea man. Screwing me by stealing an idea is like taking a golden egg and leaving the goose.
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              • Profile picture of the author zapseo
                Interesting perspective, Vince.

                I guess I assumed that if you are honest in business, you wouldn't have to worry about such things, LOL.

                Though I can see where that could be an invalid assumption.

                It's only naive to believe that justice is truly just.

                OTOH -- moving back to the original poster's question:

                1/ you can't
                2/ one well-implemented SIMPLE idea is worth 1000s of million dollar ideas.
                3/ even if someone "steals" your idea, you still might be able to get "credit",
                which can count for something. (Reading material: the book about Famous
                Amos how he doesn't own his name any more.)
                4/ in tandem with #2, one of my Silicon Valley bosses used to quote:
                "Ideas are a dime a dozen". And he's absolutely right.
                Great ideas are not that hard to come by.
                Getting them implemented is quite something else, and that's where
                ideas become worth something.

                I worked with a company in the mid-80s that was creating something
                called a framegrabber for the Amiga computer. While he created a
                working version -- getting it into manufacturing and production was
                quite another issue.

                (A company named NewTek, in Kansas, more-or-less beat him to the
                punch. NewTek will be known to Amiga fans as the producer of the
                very popular "Video Toaster". Another friend of mine was one of
                the programmers on that, LOL.)
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                • Profile picture of the author zapseo
                  Ah -- the fine art of NDAs.

                  What do you say?

                  Not much about what you are doing.

                  If you produce something successful, you can almost guarantee to have it knocked off in short order.

                  The one of the major differences between friendster and myspace was FUNDING.
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                  • Profile picture of the author Alan Petersen
                    I agree with Rypho. If you can't trust the partner and need to sign a NDA then I wouldn't work with him/her. So find someone you can trust. There has to be business partners you can feel comfortable enough to trust.

                    If not a contract/NDA is in order. And I mean a real contract drafted by a lawyer. You can get a simple contract like that done inexpensively by a lawyer.
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                • Profile picture of the author VegasVince
                  Originally Posted by zapseo View Post

                  Interesting perspective, Vince.

                  I guess I assumed that if you are honest in business, you wouldn't have to worry about such things, LOL.

                  Though I can see where that could be an invalid assumption.

                  It's only naive to believe that justice is truly just.

                  OTOH -- moving back to the original poster's question:

                  1/ you can't
                  2/ one well-implemented SIMPLE idea is worth 1000s of million dollar ideas.
                  3/ even if someone "steals" your idea, you still might be able to get "credit",
                  which can count for something. (Reading material: the book about Famous
                  Amos how he doesn't own his name any more.)
                  4/ in tandem with #2, one of my Silicon Valley bosses used to quote:
                  "Ideas are a dime a dozen". And he's absolutely right.
                  Great ideas are not that hard to come by.
                  Getting them implemented is quite something else, and that's where
                  ideas become worth something.

                  I worked with a company in the mid-80s that was creating something
                  called a framegrabber for the Amiga computer. While he created a
                  working version -- getting it into manufacturing and production was
                  quite another issue.

                  (A company named NewTek, in Kansas, more-or-less beat him to the
                  punch. NewTek will be known to Amiga fans as the producer of the
                  very popular "Video Toaster". Another friend of mine was one of
                  the programmers on that, LOL.)

                  There is a reason why the scammers, and bottom feeders target honest people rather then their own "kind."

                  Does that make sense?

                  Trust everybody...but always cut the cards.


                  xxx Vegas Vince
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                  • Profile picture of the author Dan Sherman
                    If you take on a partner, unless they're just providing something straight forward like funding, when do the ideas stop being your ideas and begin to belong to both of you? If you're truly 50/50 partners, then the partner's input is going to get integrated into the idea(s). At that point, where do you draw the line?

                    Really... I agree with Vince. Be extremely choosy about who you partner up with.
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            • Profile picture of the author James Liberty
              Are people willing to sign a non-disclosure/non-compete before even hearing what my idea is?

              And if so, would I need to reveal my idea on the non-disclosure form itself? (This sounds tricky!)

              Originally Posted by graphicsgenie View Post

              James, what kind of partners are you looking for, what fields

              Cheers
              I fear answering this because I don't want my PM box to blow up.

              (But... it's the internet marketing niche. I'd probably need someone who understands IM... a web developer and a programmer).
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              • Profile picture of the author debra
                Originally Posted by James Gilchrist View Post

                Are people willing to sign a non-disclosure/non-compete before even hearing what my idea is?

                And if so, would I need to reveal my idea on the non-disclosure form itself? (This sounds tricky!)


                I fear answering this because I don't want my PM box to blow up.

                (But... it's the internet marketing niche. I'd probably need someone who understands IM... a web developer and a programmer).
                I got exactly the same problem...only mine has esculated further than an idea.

                Thought about asking my brother but he's under contract with a prodominate company that we all fear and keep trying to figure out because they change their rules every 3 months. (bet you can guess who)

                And..the fact that...we really don't get along. He's kinda well...whinny...in my opinion.
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                • Profile picture of the author Jelasco
                  If you can't trust them, don't work with them in the first place.

                  Sometimes a written agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on.

                  Has no one heard of a handshake agreement? It was common in the olden days when people had something called integrity.
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                • Profile picture of the author James Liberty
                  Originally Posted by debra View Post

                  Thought about asking my brother but he's under contract with a prodominate company that we all fear and keep trying to figure out because they change their rules every 3 months.
                  As a general rule, hiring family members is a bad, bad idea. I hope you do not learn the hard way like so many of us have.

                  Sure there are a few exceptions to this, but for every one time it has worked out I could probably show you ten times where damage was done to intra-family relationships. (It's not worth the risk at all).
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        • Originally Posted by Tiger View Post

          Hello James,

          You said "ideas", which leads me to believe you have more than
          one idea.


          Dont tell your prospective business partner you have more
          than one idea and dont let on that you may have more than one.



          Tell him only one of your ideas, then see if he is faithful to the NDA
          you should already be inclined to have with him/her.



          If, after they get your idea, and you can not prove they
          are breaking the NDA, I would feel a little safer to share
          some more "ideas" with them at a later date.



          /Steve
          Yeah, I agree with this. Test your partner with a smaller idea at first. See how he handles it.
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          -----------------------------------------


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          • Profile picture of the author LB
            Work with people you trust AND sign an agreement with them.

            In my experience, honest folks have no problem putting their principals on paper for all to see.

            "Contract" is a dirty word to some though...
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    Originally Posted by James Gilchrist View Post

    This could be the most important question
    I've ever asked in this forum:

    I recently thought of a couple good
    business ideas... but I'll probably need
    a partner to pull them off.

    That said, how can I share my business
    ideas with a potential partner... without
    having them steal my ideas and run with
    them (on their own)?

    Is there any way that I can protect
    myself from this?
    A non-disclosure agreement could help, but you have to be willing to hire an attorney to draw up the papers, and go after the partner if they break the agreement. If it is an international partner things could get really sticky.

    However, I have worked under the 'trust' arrangement almost exclusively and have never gotten burnt in a big way. You can usually tell if someone is trustworthy before you reveal too much. Get to know them and take it a step at a time.

    That being said, I am not a lawyer, and you will have to decide how important protecting your ideas is.

    In my experience, most people ar enot out to steal ideas. It happens, but it is not as common as some think.

    ~Michael
    Signature

    "Ich bin en fuego!"
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
      Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

      A non-disclosure agreement could help, but you have to be willing to hire an attorney to draw up the papers, and go after the partner if they break the agreement. If it is an international partner things could get really sticky.

      However, I have worked under the 'trust' arrangement almost exclusively and have never gotten burnt in a big way. You can usually tell if someone is trustworthy before you reveal too much. Get to know them and take it a step at a time.

      That being said, I am not a lawyer, and you will have to decide how important protecting your ideas is.

      In my experience, most people ar enot out to steal ideas. It happens, but it is not as common as some think.

      ~Michael
      Oops! I just saw where you were from. I should add that inter-planetary business arrangements are not too tricky if you do business with someone from Sedna.



      ~Michael
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      "Ich bin en fuego!"
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      • Profile picture of the author Brian Tayler
        Non-compete and non-disclose agreements are completely different from each other. The first lays out how long an individual has to wait until entering into a particular business. The second lays out what an individual can tell outside parties (also within a certain time frame, but not always). You can say whatever you want in either agreement... but it doesn't mean it'll be legally binding (if I judge finds it unfair). For instance... you CAN set a non-compete for 100 years on a specific idea... but a judge will likely find this completely unfair and instruct you that you cannot tell someone they can never enter a market.

        I use these two documents regularly in my business. It has nothing to do with not trusting people I work with.. it is simply business. No one ever gets offended... because they are being protected too (by certain boundaries setup up front without any surprises). Anyone that won't do these agreements or is offended by them isn't a true businessman/women.
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  • Profile picture of the author Richard Tunnah
    James,
    Not sure where you're based but certainly in the UK there's nothing you can do regardless of agreements etc. I asked my father this recently (he's a lawyer of 35 years) and he said sign an agreement but if you partner wants they can worm out of any agreement (an agreement only as good until someone picks holes in it!) then you're into lengthy and expensive court action.
    Sorry I wasn't more upbeat.

    Rich
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