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How can I protect my design from theft?

Mar 10 2014 13:30
Fin24 user Timothy C is worried that potential investors might take his application design and sell it off as their own. He writes:

I have designed a unique responsive mobile website application complete with a business plan which I plan to take to the global market.

My next step now is to develop the application. I have selected an Indian company for the development. I need investor funding and after advertising my basic concept, I have started receiving mails from interested parties.

My biggest problem at the moment is trust. How do I protect my design, as the application for the global market only caters for one of these applications?

I am familiar with the Non-Disclosure Agreement, but I still fear that investors will look over the design, decline it and then develop something very similar and bring it to market before I can do so.

Do I send the business plan and product design to all interested investors?

I would appreciate your advice on the best way forward for me.  

Bertie du Plessis, business adviser and owner of MindPilot, responds:

These are real risks. Large corporations can take your idea and if challenged tie you up for years in court, for which you don’t have the money.

Going to developers you don’t know a continent apart would be unwise. Usually inventors develop their ideas with close friends where everybody in the small group stands to win big.

Investment usually works in the following stages:

The individuals put their own money up, borrow from family and friends and get some proof of concept going. Then they look for an angel investor that will give some money for prototyping, even get to market in a small way, then look for venture capital.

Go and see Business Partners. Depending on your proof of concept, they might want to invest.

Also Google “Angel investors”; you’ll see several websites in Cape Town alone that connect you to angel investors.

And then of course, invest money in a top intellectual property lawyer to get professional advice and a proper contract.

It worries me that you are speaking as if you are all alone with your idea. Is there nobody else in your inner circle?  

Go and watch the movie The Social Network about Facebook. You’ll learn a lot about the dynamics of the process on a human and business level.

 - Fin24

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entrepreneurs  |  myfin24
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