How can you prevent your idea from being stolen?

One of the questions that many entrepreneurs and creative people ask is; how can they prevent their idea from being stolen and capitalised upon by someone else.

It’s not usually good for entrepreneurs and creatives to obsess over the notion that their “ideas” will be stolen! I will explain Why.

It’s important to realise that having an “idea” in itself is not something that’s easily protected. For example, you have a great idea for a start-up and tell a friend. The friend sets up a company based on that original “idea” and makes millions, alright of course it’s disappointing and more than likely ethically wrong but legally unless there is something truly protectable in law, there is not a lot you can do! The key here is to not tell anyone about your new ‘idea’ until after you launch!

Once you have something tangible (more than an idea) there are various ways you can seek to protect and enforce rights over the property you have created. This new property is often called Intellectual Property or IP.

So you see, if you have just an “idea”, it is literally just that an idea. You need to create something tangible and then look at ways of protecting your newly created IP.

Trade mark.

You can use trade marks to register the name, graphics logos, even colour combinations of your venture. This is a powerful way to protect the branding of your new venture.

If anyone attempts to use your registered trademark, you have a legal right to begin enforcement and make them stop! It’s important to understand that simply incorporating your company in many jurisdictions does not automatically prevent someone from setting up a similarly named company using similar branding! So, if you are planning to carry out a lot of marketing or have a very unique name it would be wise to trade mark your logo, brand name etc. before launch.

It’s also important to realise that you should ensure your new name or brand is not infringing on the rights of another company’s mark. The last thing you want is to spend loads of money on your new brand to then be prevented from launching by a company with a similar name.

Trade marks are highly valuable and corporations will go to extreme measures to ‘protect’ their brand. I wrote a book called “Business Zero To Superhero” and trade marked the mark “Zero to Superhero”. Subsequently, Marvel and DC Entertainments Inc, known for Superman, Spiderman etc came after the trade mark citing that they owned the mark “Super Heroes”!

After a three year legal battle, Marvel & DC relented and dropped the case! This is the power of trade marks. Without a mark, I would have had practically no chance of defending their claim.

Once you have legally registered your trade mark you will be allowed to place the symbol ® next to your logo to indicate that it’s legally protected.


Many entrepreneurs get confused by the concept of copyright. Essentially copyright applies to creative works. For example, you write a screenplay for a Hollywood movie and want to protect the screenplay from being copied before marketing it.

In the USA there is a legal body where such creative works can be registered, the US Copyright Office. In the UK there is no such body but like the US once you create an original work it is automatically copyrighted.

The issue is, that if at a later date there is a dispute, you would need a rock-solid way of proving you were the original creator of the work. There are various non-official bodies that aim to assist with this. In addition, many register their works with an attorney.

Of course, in order for copyright to be effective, the works need to be original and cannot be based on existing copyrighted material. So, adapting an existing book, play, music piece etc. is out of the question unless you have permission from the copyright holder.

Simply having an “idea” is not usually enough to create copyright. You do actually have to create that book, poem, screenplay, music track or whatever it is for the copyright to exist. So, once again, if you tell someone about this amazing movie screenplay idea and they go away and actually write it, they own the copyright legally!

You cannot copyright an idea, you need to produce the work.


Patents are used to protect inventions. For example, you have created a brand new widget that turns rocks into gold. You would patent your exciting new invention to ensure no one else can capitalise on the technology without permission and a royalty.

Once again, your invention needs to be original. Many entrepreneurs ask if it’s possible to patent a website or code. Well, it depends. Most websites or code are based on existing technology so it’s unlikely you would be granted a patent. However, if you have a unique operating system or new deep-rooted technology, it may be possible.

Entrepreneurs also ask if it is possible to patent a process. For example, you have a unique system that enables warehouses to store more products in their storage facilities. It’s unlikely you will be able to patent such processes unless there is some key original technology or invention behind the process.

In the US patents are taken care of by United States Patent and Trademark Office ( and in the UK, you have the Intellectual Property Office


Ok, so you have a new design for sports shoes and you want to protect that. Obviously, sports shoes are not original but it may be possible to register your original design and protect that. In the UK it’s possible to register designs to offer protection to your unique designs. Register a design – GOV.UK ( You will need drawings to indicate the shape of your design. Once registered protection will last up to twenty-five years. In the USA Design Patents are available.


Having just an idea is simply not enough! Turn your ideas into tangible reality and then protect your intellectual property using the methods above. Remember, many company’s IP is worth more than the products or services that they provide. This is important and should not be underestimated. Owning your IP is essential and most investors will not invest in a company that does not own its IP.

This article was written by Graham Jules LL.B, author of Business Zero To Superhero and founder of Pop Up World. Pop Up World is a platform that helps entrepreneurs reach for the stars! via various services such as Investor Connector, Logo Design, Pitch Deck Creation, Company Name AI Generator and more.

Although the author is legally trained, he is not a solicitor or attorney. You should consult a legal professional in your jurisdiction for advice on the issues mentioned in this article.

Graham Jules – founder Pop Up World

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