Discussing a tech idea (startup)
Say you have a billion+ dollar idea that could disrupt the entertainment industry, really open a new horizon, but you cannot share it with giants such as Google, Netflix, Facebook, because they aren't interested in unsolicited proposals.
What do you do? The idea behind the idea is empowerment of the people. Of you and me. But we, the people, are so fragmented, it's impossible to get anybody's attention if you are not a "influencer", and to become an influencer one needs to mingle with other influencer, who are more often than not selfish pricks, who like the companies above, don't care what you have to say, but only want you to hear what they have to say.
Even the crowdfunding platforms are useless if you are not a part of a tribe, which I am not. I was always a loner, and sought answers inside my own mind.
So yes, now I have something to share, but no one to share it with. Since I consider people who use Vivaldi cool by default, I came here asking for advice. What would you do if you were in a situation like mine? (-:
@Aliante Share the idea right here with the awesome Vivaldi folks obviously.
That's tricky for the obvious selfish reasons ("protecting the idea"). So I guess that is what I forgot to mention. Is it anyhow possible to protect the idea before sharing it with the world.
What crossed my mind is to start an Indiegogo campaign, and then share it with multiple online communities, those that value freedom, education, net neutrality, etc. But would an even better idea be to create an actual company, bare-bones, with a proof of concept of the idea, and then proceed?
I've read bunch of stuff on the net about startups, angel investors, and whatnot, but it just led to more confusion
@Aliante: How about getting a patent on the idea? That will cost some in the beginning but keeps you in charge.
The same thing in small: Find some people who might like the idea, let them sign a NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) and go on discussing the idea.
If your idea is good and so are their contributions (or you use them) you should let them participate in your expected success. Even tiny amounts like one promille of a billion income amount to nice numbers for everybody taking part. And does not ruin you
Try to find out how others get there idea to the market. You're not the first one asking how to do this.
It won't work without sharing the idea with others.
If you only have the idea but no (technical) ability to implement it, try to find people (or even companies) who are able to.
When it comes to protecting an idea, there are a couple things you can rely on, legally.
One way is to get a patent. This tends to cost a lot up front, which makes it difficult when you're starting up. There are a few things to keep in mind with a patent. Getting a patent involves disclosing your invention. The concept is basically that you publish your invention for the world to see (through your domestic patent office), and in exchange for disclosing, you get a monopoly on your invention. So your idea wouldn't be a secret. This is referred to as the patent bargain - in exchange for letting the world know your invention, you get a monopoly on your invention (for a long, but limited, amount of time).
There's also a bar date if you publicly disclose your invention before you get a patent. One thing that often happens is that an inventor will go to trade shows to show off their invention to see if it is even viable to sell. Since you've essentially already shown the world your invention, you have nothing to offer in terms of the patent bargain. This is something that might differ based on where you live, but generally you have a year to file a patent after making a public disclosure.
Also, when it comes to getting a patent, there is a question of whether someone has already come up with idea. A lot of patent applications get filed. A lot of people have lots of ideas. There's a lot of stuff out there. Often times someone things they have an incredible idea and think that there is no way anybody came up with the idea before. Then they file a patent, and it turns out someone has already come up with the idea. You can hire a patent attorney to do a patent search. A good patent attorney will probably be able to get something allowed based on your idea, but it doesn't necessarily mean it will have any value. This is why a lot of big companies file tons of patents - one patent might not have much value, but if you have hundreds, then it can be used as a weapon (or a shield).
If you have a patent, you don't necessarily need to build or produce your invention. You can license your idea, or sue other people for infringing your patent (when people who don't build anything sue others, they are often referred to as patent trolls). Licensing your idea would involve dealing with the various big companies you mentioned. They might be more willing to listen to you if you have a patent, but having a patent is no guarantee of anything.
If you do decide to try to get a patent, consult a patent attorney.
The other form of protection is trade secret. Someone already mentioned that if you meet with anybody, you should get them to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
With a trade secret, the basic concept is that you don't disclose your invention. Some good examples would be something like the recipe for Coca-cola, or the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. They go about their business, make money off their idea, and could take their idea to the grave with them (this is why the patent system exists - to encourage people to tell their useful ideas to the world).
The problem with a trade secret is that anyone is free to take your idea and use it themselves (assuming they can figure out how to do it). So, if someone figured out the recipe for Coca-cola, then there's not much Coca-cola can do.
But, trade secrets do offer some protection. Someone can reverse-engineer your idea, but they can't steal your idea from you. So, if you tell someone your idea in a situation of confidence, they can't take your idea. This is why getting something like a non-disclosure agreement is important (you should be protected, even if you don't get one, but it is harder to prove). The confidence issue is a big deal - if you tell us your idea here, that wouldn't be telling your idea in confidence. But, if you are consulting some company that you want to hire to make your idea, that might be a situation of confidence. It all depends on the circumstances.
So, going back to the Coke example, Coca-cola probably has to work with a lot of different distributors. At some point, they probably have to let some manufacturer know the recipe for Coke so that the manufacturer can make the product. If this manufacturer decides to take the Coke recipe and starts making another product with it, or decides to publish the recipe on the internet, then Coca-cola would have some legal protection.
The problem is that, while Coca-cola could sue the manufacturer that stole the recipe, if the manufacturer posted it on the internet, they're kind of screwed. The recipe is out there. If I decide to start making a cola product using the Coke recipe, they couldn't come after me.
Another option is just to get your product out there. Sometimes simply being first to market is a big deal. If you can flood the market with your product, that might be all that you need. But, that will be more difficult to do if you don't have the technical ability or funds to make your idea.
tl;dr - consult an intellectual property attorney if you want to know your legal options. Even if you don't want to get a patent, or find out it is too expensive, this type of thing is something they deal with a lot. They might be able to provide some insight. Ideally, you want to find a patent attorney that has experience in the general field that your invention is in.
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