I have come up with a VR concept that I want to pitch to programmers.
How do I protect the idea from being stolen before I go around telling everyone?
Thanks in advance.
For starters, you should Google on "Copyright FAQ". Terry Carroll wrote an excellent FAQ on the subject about ten years ago, it should still be available on USENET at misc.legal and similar sources. Read it.
Briefly: Copyright protects the *concrete expression* of an original idea. Until you have a program (or other concrete expression of the idea), copyright is irrelevant. An abstract idea can be protected neither by copyright, nor by patent, nor by any other intellectual property protection.
In your case you could draw up a non-disclosure agreement prior to discussing your idea.
Thanks. Do you think that an online non-disclosure agreement with an [AGREE] button that leads to descriptions of the concept would be viable?
Quote: Sensory Fiend wrote on Thu, 19 April 2007 06:51
> Thanks. Do you think that an online non-disclosure agreement with an [AGREE] button that leads to descriptions of the concept would be viable?
you could ask as well "how do i protect my bike from beeing stolen?"
the answer is you can
Why not find particular programmers whom you think would have the skills and interest and then just talk to them?
just a thought..
>> Thanks. Do you think that an online non-disclosure agreement with
>> an [AGREE] button that leads to descriptions of the concept would
>> be viable?
I think a software forum – or any other forum – is a terrible place to
ask for legal advice. If you are serious, ask a good lawyer.
….and spend ages finding a good lawyer… and probably wasting a buttload of money.
> ….and spend ages finding a good lawyer… and probably wasting a
> buttload of money.
If the original poster is as serious as claimed, the money won’t be
A good lawyer won’t generally need a horrible (lawyerly speaking) amount
of money to give advice on a situation like this. Litigation is what
costs the big money, and that’s why you spend a little extra up-front on
a consultation with a notably good lawyer – to avoid the cost of litigation.
Good lawyers aren’t hard to find – all you need to find are legitimately
happy and successful clients without a conflict of interest. Not too tough.
Use a lawyer : use a condom. It all depends on the chances you’re
willing to take.
> Use a lawyer : use a condom. It all depends on the chances you’re
> willing to take.
With a condom this baby never will be born… ;-)
Quote: dlurk wrote on Thu, 19 April 2007 20:05
I think a software forum – or any other forum – is a terrible place to
> ask for legal advice. If you are serious, ask a good lawyer.
I was not giving legal advice. Sigh.
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A LAWYER AND NOTHING I (OR ANYONE ELSE ON THIS LIST) HAS WRITTEN CONSTITUTES LEGAL ADVICE. EVER.
That said, you can get some pretty damn’ good pointers in misc.legal.
But the best practical advice given here was by Venetian.
Peter Castine wrote:
> Quote: dlurk wrote on Thu, 19 April 2007 20:05
> I think a software forum – or any other forum – is a terrible place to
>> ask for legal advice. If you are serious, ask a good lawyer.
> I was not giving legal advice. Sigh.
I wasn’t saying you were – I wasn’t responding to anyone but the thread
initiator. The question implied a desire to protect IP using a legally
binding method on a self-selected group. That’s a huge gray area.
I only suggested that if the need is strong and justified, then there’s
really just one option: seek expert advice from someone legally
obligated not to steal your idea. Preferably from the subset of those
people who will understand your idea and how it fits with other ideas.
You have them sign a standard non-disclosure agreement before you speak
with them .
This will cover all knowledge transferred that cannot already be gained
through public channels, but be careful, with trade secrets, the more
people you tell the harder it is for a court to protect.
P.S. If it is a VR concept, I would REALLY check for prior art /
patents. During the 80s / early 90s there were a ton of patents on
everything you can imagine related to VR.
Kit Webster wrote:
> I have come up with a VR concept that I want to pitch to programmers.
> How do I protect the idea from being stolen before I go around telling everyone?
> Thanks in advance.
composition : sound : programming
Today, Noise is triumphant and reigns sovereign over the sensibility of men.
– Luigi Russolo, The Art of Noises
Quote: dlurk wrote on Sat, 21 April 2007 00:23
> I wasn’t saying you were – I wasn’t responding to anyone but the thread
> initiator. The question implied a desire to protect IP using a legally
> binding method on a self-selected group. That’s a huge gray area.
> I only suggested that if the need is strong and justified, then there’s
> really just one option: seek expert advice from someone legally
> obligated not to steal your idea. Preferably from the subset of those
> people who will understand your idea and how it fits with other ideas.
Fair enough. However, it’s also fair to ask on a professional maillist for advice on where to get started. Free advice, the adage goes, is worth every penny you pay for it. For all that, there has been some decent advice on this thread. Paying for professional advice for a lawyer can be well worth the cost, but having fundamentals explained (for instance, whether or not an *idea* can be protected by copyright) @$200-300/h is not so cost-effective.
Here’s some more free advice for the original poster:
- Having "an idea" is maybe 2% of the work; developing the idea to a working product is usually 98% of the work or more. Keep this in mind.
- Most developers have no lack of ideas for projects of their own.
- There is very rarely anything new under the sun. Most "new" ideas are, at best, subtle variations on existing knowledge and art. Many developers may already have had ideas very similar to yours. Hence the importance of Venetian’s suggestion to investigate prior art. How well do you know the work already done
in the field? Have you thoroughly studied the literature?
- Even more important than having an idea is a development plan. As I said, everybody has ideas. The big question is: how are you going to finance the development effort? The answer may be "we both keep our day jobs while working nights for the next two years." That’s a valid approach, if not the most compelling argument to motivate a programmer you don’t already have a long-term working relationship with. But you have to have thought that far.
Finally, a plug (long-time list readers will have seen this coming a mile away)… for more free advice, I’d suggest consulting the I Ching. The complete text of the Oracle is availble directly in Max through the object lp.i, part of the Litter Pro Bundle. The I Ching is never wrong.
My idea involves intricate perspective adjustments and mathematical formulas. I have written a description of exactly how the technologywould work but it may be many months before I have completed a working prototype. I want to be able to display a description of the concept and what I have created so far on the internet and in publications to allow others to see how it could work but I am worried that if I do so it will be destroy any rights I may have over the technology giving others the change to use my idea.
I am wondering if anyone could please give me a little advice in the area of intellectual property protection. When you first think of an idea what steps do you take to protect it? Do you have to gain patenting rights or is copyrighting the work sufficient? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
1. I think you need to implement this and get it working. That way you know it works. By creating the code, you are creating something that you can copyright. Your idea is still an idea, until you put this down. Why not code it as a description rather than write it in some other way? Code is more precise.
2. If you put this in the public domain prior to lodging a patent, then you will no longer be able to patent the idea. By lodging an initial patent application (in which you describe the idea in formulae, words, etc), you then have a year to make further developments. You could publish during the year too. You’d then do the proper formal patent application.
I’d say the best thing to do is get a working prototype in private of this without disclosing any methods used on public forums or publications. Once you have that, you could lodge the initial patent application. You need to patent a particular method as opposed to an idea. Otherwise, I could say, patent a levitation machine or a Star Trek transportation device.
On a course I went to on this, they described it thus: a patent is an agreement of protection from the state in return for a full disclosure of the method used. It’s a form of deal.
Hope this helps..
Hi Andrew thanks for the advice.
Are you saying that I can create a patent simply based on a written description of the way the technology works? If so I could patent the idea very soon.
Also what do you mean by code? Do you mean actual software code? I am not a programmer and I am not an expert at Max. I still do think my idea had got legs but for me to get the idea working would take a very long time.
I want to be able to protect it so I can start really getting the idea out to people who may be able to realise its potential adn therefor speed up its production..
Have them sign a non-compete agreement or
a non-disclosure agreement or both: only for the
idea/meetings and so forth….
cheers: Josephine Lipuma
— Kit Webster
> Hi Andrew thanks for the advice.
> Are you saying that I can create a patent simply
> based on a written description of the way the
> technology works? If so I could patent the idea very
> Also what do you mean by code? Do you mean actual
> software code? I am not a programmer and I am not an
> expert at Max. I still do think my idea had got legs
> but for me to get the idea working would take a
> very long time.
> I want to be able to protect it so I can start
> really getting the idea out to people who may be
> able to realise its potential adn therefor speed up
> its production..
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You may be able to, although my initial reaction thought it was doubtful.
When you patent, you need to disclose the method or the mechanics by which your technology works. This is what is covered by the patent. Also, you must give a full disclosure when you lodge the application. If you then developed other features, you either move the date of the patent to when you describe the new features, or they will not be included.
So, it seems to me, having a working system is the best scenario when lodging the initial patent. That way, you are capable of describing the technology fully and you know it works. Without a working system, you run some risk, in that you haven’t actually developed the idea yet.
Perhaps the best solution is lodge an initial application. Then go ahead and develop it (using non-disclosure etc) and if you find the actual implementation is better or different, you could update the patent at that future date. However, you’d be covered in some way by the initial application you filed whilst this development happens.
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