Soap Box Rants
By Pamela Bratcher-McMillan
President, Chair & CEO, of PETAL et al.
If you have a great idea, protect it! Weâ€™re living in times when people are very desperate to survive, let alone be successful.
With big egos flaring, there are people running around in desperation to be that next great multi-million or billion-dollar company. The young and talented, often impoverished, are being fleeced for ideas under the disguise of being programs to get them ahead. So with an open heart and mind, they will tell everything to people they tend to trust.
There are many creative people that are preparing business plans for competitions and programs. And they share their ideas and plans with people that they believe to be mentoring or guiding them during the process. Many are encouraged to share their ideas. They feel if they say it, nobody will take it. But guess what? They may not take it, but it is a good chance they will share your information with someone else, a group of people or another company that can bring it to fruition faster than you can. So donâ€™t believe it. Did you have them sign a confidentiality agreement? Good luck with proving in court that they shared your plan with a colleague in another state or stole your idea. Â Are you prepared to pay a lawyer to prove that they shared your idea or they stole your idea? Most startups and young people probably are not. Itâ€™s amazing to me the amount of people that lack vision and creativity and are willing to steal an idea in a hot second.
As an example, Iâ€™ve heard several stories involving musicians or clothing designers whose works were being peddled and sold in other countries without them knowing it, and their ideas were making a good living for the thieves. The same things take place in this country as well.
Creativity is a gift that not too many people have. And those that donâ€™t have it want to convince you that it can be learned or taught; but it canâ€™t. It can be emulated or altered being that most people that steal ideas just change something around and make it their own.Â Thieves who steal your ideas will typically have an advantage in court because the burden of proof is on the complainant. And if you go to court, the victim of his/her stolen ideas will have to prove that they lost business or money. If your idea never got off the ground, how will you prove it?
If you discuss your idea, change some things around drastically, but never share the idea in plain sight unless you are willing to have someone else do it.
The bottom line is: If you have a great idea keep it to yourself and family until you are ready to launch it. And before you launch it, get a copyright, trademark or patent on it first. If you do share it outside of the group, keep a written log of who you shared it with and what you told them.
Pamela Bratcher-McMillan is a technology Expert and President, Chair & CEO, of PETAL et al.