Monday, November 29, 2010

I've got an awesome idea....

I hear the words in the above title all the time.  We love awesome ideas at OS-Cubed - it drives our (and our client's) passion.  But what about all those ideas that you have that never end up getting made, what happens to those?  Today the process of getting a patent on something, especially a "business process patent" is fraught with difficulty.  You have the burden of proving there is no prior art that shows that your idea hasn't already been thought of by someone else, and of actually prosecuting any perceived infringement on your own nickle.

Truly your best defense against someone else taking your idea and running with it is doing it yourself - sooner rather than later, and better rather than poorer.  This is why most venture capital companies won't sign a non-disclosure or a non-compete.  They know that there is an unlimited supply of ideas, but a very limited supply of entrepreneurs with both the passion and ability to turn those ideas into cash.

That means really letting your great idea take hold and putting your full passion and energy behind making it happen is the best way to be sure no one steals it.  This is not to say you shouldn't pursue a patent if you really believe it's revolutionary enough to get one. Being first to market AND better to market though will make up for a lot of lost revenue fighting over lawsuits.  And no - you can't just get someone to send you money if they later "take" one of your ideas and make it happen.

Oh, and as an added aside - be sure to actually CHECK the market to see if there's a competing product already there.  I can't tell you the number of times we've been approached to create a reinvented EBay (with no significant difference from the real EBay), a new PowerPoint (with the same features), or a new version of an existing site.  These aren't revolutions and they won't capture the hearts and minds of users unless there is truly a pain being serviced, a product being sold or a methodology being used that is new and different from the rest of the marketplace.