People copying my new business idea

I have a great idea for a new business but I fear that if I put money into starting it up, someone will copy it right away as I've seen it happen. I know a little about patents, but someone could easily just modify my idea and make it their own. Is there any way to prevent this?

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    Karen, you're asking a question that so many people wonder about, which is how original does an idea have to be in order for it to get legal protection in the form of a patent.

    Here's the tricky thing -- most business ideas don't qualify for any protection. Say you were the first person to think of the brilliant idea of making healthful fast food, you'd be out of luck if you wanted to prevent anyone else from getting into the same business. That said, if you have a way of doing your business that is original - like a machine that somehow removes all the fat from meat - then that machinery might be patentable, assuming you are the first one to have invented it. If the invention were eligible for a patent that means that you'd be able to be the exclusive maker of it for a certain number of years (the term varies based on the type of invention).

    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a FAQ in plain English that provides a lot of useful information: http://www.uspto.gov/main/faq/index.html

    Source(s): US Patent and Trademark Office FAQ http://www.uspto.gov/main/faq/index.html
  • 1 decade ago

    Karen, Marci's advice is smart -- see if you can patent or trademark your idea and do it. But, whether you succeed or fail in the trademark process, move on very quickly. I actually think most entrepreneurs spend too much time worrying about exclusivity. Most decent ideas are solutions to problems -- and ones that many people are thinking about solving. Not to diminish your idea, but it's probably been thought of before.

    This would all be just an academic debate if the stakes didn't matter. First, it's rarely the first mover that makes the big money; the big bucks usually flow to the "fast follower," the company that watches the creator of the initial idea find a small market and then expands it with a better version. Amazon wasn't the first online seller. Nike wasn't the first sneaker manufacturer. They were smart fast followers. You get the picture.

    Second, I find that many entrepreneurs become so concerned with walling off their idea -- in other words not sharing what they have -- that they block others from helping with the development of what could really sell. They lose critical market research. They often lose new sales channels. They lose important teammates. So be careful how much you bar others from hearing about you.

  • chappa
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Unless the precise system of commercial is patented you may have loose variety. Most industry items are established on ordinary practices so you're most likely not to have a predicament except you employ their proprietary techniques. Good success

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