Don’t Get Too Hung Up On Protecting Your Idea

Startup Journal says that you shouldn’t worry about your attorney stealing your business idea:

Whether your attorney will steal your idea should rank pretty low among the worries and challenges you’d face if you pursue this.

Should you consult with an attorney before franchising a business concept? Yes, before launching any serious business you’d be smart to confer with your attorney and accountant. And if you’re considering a franchise, you should find and retain someone with experience in that specific area, with its many standards regarding how franchisees and franchisers interact.

But theft of intellectual property by lawyers is rare, says Barbara Johnson, a partner at The Webb Law Firm in Pittsburgh, which deals with intellectual property and patenting. She points out that you’d have some recourse through professional legal associations if your attorney engaged in such flagrantly unethical conduct.

Let’s look at the larger picture, though, of protecting intellectual property and patents. Most entrepreneurs worry too much about this.

In fact, the theft of a concept such as you are contemplating is rare, and for good reason. It’s not likely to be worth much in the idea stage. It’s the execution — manufacturing the product, hiring good employees, hatching a smart marketing strategy — that creates value.

Take Starbucks, your own example. Suppose its founder Howard Schultz had whispered to his golf partner, “I think the time is right for a chain of coffee shops.” Even if the guy decided to steal the idea, it’s unlikely that he could have executed the concept — its shop design, product mix, selection of real estate and financing strategy — as brilliantly as Mr. Schultz.

Like I always say, it’s not the idea that worth a million bucks, it’s the execution!


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