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Hi, I am currently working on a web startup. I have been asking

Hi, I am currently working on...
Hi,
I am currently working on a web startup. I have been asking for all sorts of help from my mentors, friends, and colleagues. They have been helpful in giving me advice, giving me ideas, and giving me contacts.
Should I be protecting myself in any way from this? They have not DIRECTLY been working on the product itself, but have given me good ideas(some which I have used), and good advice.
Can they later claim that an idea or concept was theirs?
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Answered in 15 minutes by:
8/4/2012
WiseOwl58
WiseOwl58, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 4,082
Experience: Senior Associate at White & Case LLP
Verified

The best way to protect yourself and to protect the company is to have them sign the same Confidentiality and Inventions Assignment Agreement that I sent to you for use with the web designer you are using.

 

Although they are offering "gratuitous advice," by having them sign the agreement before discussing the company with you they cannot make a claim to ownership of the ideas that you have used with the company.

 

You may want to shorten the agreement and distill it down to its essence for informal discussions such as this, but it would be to your benefit to do so.

 

Good luck to you. I wish you all the best.

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Customer reply replied 5 years ago
Thank you so much for your fast reply!
Have a quick followup though.

I understand that signing the agreement is the safest way possible but is it very likely that offering "gratuitous help" can become a lawsuit? For example, can someone claim ownership of part of a company just because they offered startup advice? Or can someone say an idea (such as product design or product name) was theirs so they are entitled the equity?

I have already had people give me ideas and offer me advice.


Thanks!
No, they couldn't.claim they owned part.of.the.company. also, they couldn't sue.you for.equity.

Worst.case, they could.say that they owned.the idea.and.sue.you for.infringing on their intellectual property.rights.and claim monetary damages, but not.equity ownership of your company.

Moreover, unless they had trademarked.or.copyrighted.the idea,.it.would.be.worth very little.and their.claim would.be without.merit.

The.only way they could.get.anything.would be if.they were.already using.a protected.intellectual property.and.you.stole it, which you are not likely to.do.

Good.luck to.you.
WiseOwl58
WiseOwl58, Attorney
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