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I've come up with a unique idea for a type of social media…

I've come up with a...
I've come up with a unique idea for a type of social media platform that I'd like to create. I want to be able to pitch my idea and talk to people about it without having to worry about anybody stealing it. How can I protect my idea? Is it the kind of thing that needs to be copyrighted?
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Answered in 3 minutes by:
1/18/2018
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 13,392
Experience: Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today..

Generally, it's not possible to copyright ideas. The Copyright Act protects writings, records, and photographs generally. This means that if you have a book, writing, or work of art, you can copyright that. Even software can be copyrighted.

If you have an idea though, unfortunately, the idea can't be protected. For instance, the idea of a personal computer can't be copyrighted, but all of the software on the inside of it can be copyrighted.

So, if you have a unique social media idea that you'd like to create, your best bet is to just keep all of your conversations private.

What some people do when discussing the matters with suppliers or investors is that they usually ask for a non-disclosure agreement to protect the idea.

Otherwise, if you have software code, designs, or other copyrightable items that you've created, you can seek a copyright for that. For example, Facebook, Inc. has a copyright on that lower case f. Social media itself isn't copyrighted, but things specific to Facebook are.

What other questions did you have for me regarding this?

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Do you know what people normally do in my situation? If I share my idea with any big players, they'll simply steal it if they have no reason not to.

Normally, people will have potential investors, employees, or partners sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect their idea. This means if the idea gets out and it is exactly similar to yours, you can sue for breach of contract.

This means that you could recover damages as a result of their actions. A breach of contract just simply means that one party was obligated to perform and they have either have not performed or have said that they will not perform. Typically, the aggrieved party is entitled to be returned to the same position they were in before the breach, meaning that you could sue for the profits they made from your idea. For the future, there's a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good template for advising of a breach of contract. It's a bit easier (and cheaper) than going through litigation and I have seen it be effective in the past. If this doesn’t work, sadly, the only other option is to either go through an informal mediation or file a lawsuit in your local court. This website is also pretty cool because you can download the forms right after purchasing. Click here to get started.

What other questions did you have for me today that I can help you out with:-)?

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
I'll definitely check it out. If I'm understanding you correctly, I would need to have people sign the agreement before I share my idea with them? There isn't any need for mutual consideration as with a contract?

Well, the consideration is that you will share the idea with them and in exchange they are giving up their right to share this idea with anyone else. So, there doesn't usually need to be money paid at all to bind the agreement, just the mutual promises that you'll share and they'll keep it secret.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Got it. And if someone who signs the agreement shares the idea with a third person, I suppose I would have to prove that the conversation between them took place in order to recover, if the third person stole the idea?

Correct. You'd have the burden of proof, but if your idea is really unique, it'll be easier to prove in court (potentially).

Any other questions for me?

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
If you have any recommendations for things I could read about this, or if you have any other information about the aspect of proof, I'd be very interested. If I wake up one morning and find out that my idea has been implemented by someone I've never met, I don't know how I could possibly prove that he or she had gotten the idea from someone I'd spoken to.

I don't have much reading material that would be of much use, but I can recommend that you talk to others that have had big ideas like this and the things that they've done. Proving that they shared your idea is not easy, but dont' forget that most people don't want to invite lawsuits so the NDAs go a long way in preventing that.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Ok, thanks.

The pleasure is all mine! Unless you have additional questions, there’s just a few other things I’d like you to know before we wrap up this conversation:

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
I just want to let you know that the site you recommended doesn't have forms for non-disclosure agreements.

Oh ok. you can go to legalzoom.com or just google one to find a template you can use. They're pretty easy to find.

Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 13,392
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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Thanks

You bet!

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