How to Protect Your Start-up Idea

Protect Your Start-up Idea

Do you have an amazing idea you would like to present to the world but you're scared someone might beat you to it? There are several ways you can protect your business idea and as long as you follow these tips, your idea should be safe.

Secure your business

It doesn't matter if you are just starting out or your business has been up and running for some time, you need to invest in is security. Having physical security, such as alarms and CCTV cameras, is crucial but if you have intellectual property (IT) that is very important to you, you should also invest in online security. Hackers do not only target big corporations but small ones as well. This is considered to be a low-risk-low-reward endeavour; however, by having proper security in place, you'll make them think it's not worth the effort. So, opt for encryption and try to avoid free cloud-based storage options.

Surround yourself loyal people

Yes, you might think the ones closest to you would never steal from you but unfortunately, this type of fraud is quite common. In this day and age, stories about best friends cutting each other out of their joint venture can be heard more and more often. You should be very selective about the people you share your ideas with. Try to keep it on the down low until you get your business going and register it.

It is understandable that you need trustworthy people around you but a little bit of paranoia is not a bad thing. Having mentors as well as investors you can talk to about developing your idea is crucial; however, you need to make sure they are reliable. That can be done by performing a background check and asking them to sign some kind of contract.

Speaking of contracts; on this front, you should seek professional legal help. They can steer you in the right direction and explain every type of document and protection you have the right to.


There are different ways to protect your property. If you still haven't had the chance to register your business but decide to present your idea, project or sketch to an investor or potential partner, you can ask them to sign an affidavit. It's one of the cheaper options, as all you need to do is visit a local notary public. The document should state the date of you showing your idea and be signed by the person who gets to see it. This way, you can prove that the concept was yours at the date of the signing.

Non-Disclosure agreement

This is a pricier option but an NDA defines confidential information, how each party has to treat the said information and gives details on what will happens if there is a breach of contract. Signing an agreement can protect you if a partner or investor tries to steal your idea, as that can be very hard when there is a contract with a date in place. The same goes for all of your employees; they can even sign a non-compete clause, which prohibits them from creating a company similar to yours after they leave your employ.

Once again, you should contact your lawyer to see which parts of your business copyright law applies to. If your employees create something while working for you, they will have the rights to it unless you have the proper documents that specify that everything created within the company belongs to the company.


Trademarking your business can give you extra protection. The date on the trademark application can be of great help if there is ever a dispute over your idea. You can register all the words, designs and symbols that are specific to your start-up and its ideas. Research the words you would like to trademark, either on your own or with the help of professionals, to see whether they are free for you to use. While you are waiting for your application to be approved, you can use the ™ sign to label your products or ℠ for your services. Once your trademark is registered, you can add the ® symbol to your trademarked items. Additionally, don't forget to take care of your online presence. Your domain name and social media handles and tags should all reflect your company's trademarked words and images.


Probably the most expensive way to protect your ideas is to apply for a patent. However, it is also the safest. Contact a patent lawyer to see what the requirements and the procedure are. They will be able to tell you whether your idea should be patented, whether someone else already has the patent for it and what your course of action should be.

Investing in a patent shows people that you are serious about your business and that might attract investors. And if the patent is yours, you don't have to worry as much about someone stealing your ideas, products or business. That way, there will be no legal concerns, and if you ever decide to sell your business, you might get more money for it.

However, if you do find out that someone is using your idea and passing it off as their own, there are several steps you can take. If you have all the proper documentation, you have all the legal rights to sue them. Seeing as how a lawsuit can be very expensive and take too long, you can start with smaller steps, such as having your lawyer send a cease-and-desist letter to the people that allegedly stole your idea.

There you have it, a few things to be aware of when trying to protect your idea. Make sure that you can trust the people around you, and file all the necessary documentation to be certain no one can cheat you out of your company.

Guest Author

David Koller

David Koller is a passionate blogger and copywriter for Media Gurus, mainly interested in SEO and Digital Marketing.