Before we get into some potential ways to protect your business idea, let’s talk about what is and isn’t allowed under copyright law.
A lot of things that are called “business ideas” aren’t actually protected by copyrights. An example of this would be if I wrote an article titled “How To Make Sure Your House Does Not Start Believing That It Is A Home” then someone else copied and pasted my title along with their own comments and marketing tips without adding anything new or significant to the article.
This wouldn’t be illegal unless it was done as part of a paid service or marketed as an official guide but it would be easy for people to just take our material and add their own spin on it which removes its value.
That being said, protecting yourself from theft really does start with educating yourself on how copyright laws apply to creative works.
It’s important to remember that even though you probably brainstormed many of your business ideas here, in the eyes of the law you are the author not only of the words but also of the general concept (known as the abstract) so make sure you have appropriate protections in place.
Register your business
Even if you’re not actively looking to start your own business, it is still important to register your business. This includes registering your business name with both state and federal governments!
Business registration allows you to connect your business to your personal identity. Plus, you will have to prove that you are running a business before you can take loans or receive tax breaks for investing in starting up.
It also helps protect you from lawsuits as well as helping others learn more about who you are as an individual. You should always be aware of what businesses you own so people cannot use your reputation to build trust in yourself.
And while some may think being rich means having lots of money, most successful entrepreneurs spend their time working long hours without much pay. All of this effort was done because they invested into building their business.
By protecting your ideas, you help ensure that no one else can make money off them unless they worked hard to earn these rights. At the same time, you prevent false accusations by individuals who may want to create controversy for financial gain.
Get federal and state tax IDs
As we know, protecting your business idea is not an easy task. One of the hardest things you can do for your business is protect it from theft. This is especially true if you already launched and are trying to get some momentum going.
If you ever want to be able to take action against those who stole your ideas, or even just sue them for theft, you will need to put in place very strong protections.
One way to do this is to obtain copyright registration certificates for your creative work. A certificate confirms that you own the material and that you have the legal right to use it. It also gives you proof of ownership which may help you in a dispute.
Copyright registrations are processed through the United States Copyright Office or their equivalent in your country. Both require you to provide copies of your work, as well as information about your company such as its name and contact details.
Apply for licenses and permits
It is your responsibility as an entrepreneur to protect your business idea before you launch or even start talking about it. This includes getting proper licensing, copyrighting materials, and trademarks!
Land on business with no license can put yourself in serious legal trouble later if someone else uses that concept or image. Even verbal permission may not be enough!
Licensing and copyrights are things such as putting up “For Sale” or “Open For Quotes” signs, using appropriate fonts, and owning clear manufacturer’s logos.
Trademarks are your company name and logo done officially under law.
You must legally own all of these pieces of property to maintain your rights to use them down the road.
Protect your intellectual property
Developing new products is hard! If you don’t, then someone will take what you work so hard on and make it for themselves with no compensation for you.
It’s a risk every entrepreneur takes, but one that can have disastrous consequences if they’re not careful.
By protecting your ideas, you prevent others from taking credit for your work and earning money off of it without paying you for it. This is especially important now when technology has made it easy to copy or “hack” another person’s product.
There are many ways to protect your business idea. Some of the most common strategies include doing pre-work on an idea, keeping your ideas private, limiting exposure by using stealthy tools, and registering your ideas as trademarks or copyrights.
But before you do anything, you must first determine whether or not your ideas are protected already. It’s in everyone’s best interest to check this out before investing time into developing them.
Know your customers
As mentioned earlier, protecting your business idea is not always about protecting it from others, but instead may be preventing yourself or other people from accessing it. This can mean limiting access to your own ideas, as well as those of others.
By this stage of starting your business, you should have gathered enough information about your field to get started. You know what products and services work for you, how they make you money, and some potential competitors.
Now, go into more detail by figuring out who your target market is and what their needs are. Are there any gaps in the market that you can fill? If so, then start brainstorming ways to do so!
Your business idea might already exist – unless you wanted to take it over. But even if it doesn’t, that’s okay! Because now is the time to create one that does!
We all come up with lots of great ideas throughout our lives, so don’t feel like you need to keep yours a secret. Talk about it with loved ones and try to get input, however much they might try to talk you down!
Once you’ve got the basics down, put together an outline and see where things lead. Start testing your ideas, and see which ones stick.
Set up a business bank account
Having a business banking account is an excellent way to protect your ideas from being stolen. This can be done through either traditional banks or online-only banks that offer business accounts.
Most lenders require you to provide proof of income, so make sure to do this early in order to qualify for a business loan.
By having a business bank account, you will also have access to more advanced tools such as email and text message verification, which helps ensure no fraudsters are able to steal your identity.
These days there are even some services that allow you to connect your business account via mobile device, making it easy to monitor transactions.
Create a company structure
A business’s legal structure is an important part of protecting your idea. You can use three different types of companies to protect your ideas: sole proprietors, partnerships, and corporations.
The most common type of businesses are called “Sole Proprietor.” This gives you personal ownership of the business, what they call a “silent owner.”
A second option is a “Partnership.” Here both individuals or groups own a share of the business.
The third option is a “Corporation.” This takes away some of the individual owners’ rights by giving more formal protections to the shareholders. For example, board members cannot put their hands into the business without permission from other shareholders.
It is very difficult to steal a corporation. However, this does not mean that it is impossible. It just makes it much harder.
Register your company with the state agencies
As we have seen, protecting your business idea is not an easy task. Luckily, you are not alone in this struggle! There are many ways to protect your ideas from being stolen or copyrighted.
One of the most important things that every entrepreneur should do is register their business with the appropriate government agencies. This includes registering your business name, filing fictitious business statements, and ensuring that there aren’t any open tax liens against your company.
By registering your business, it becomes possible to create documents like certificates of incorporation, operating agreements, and even death notices for your company. These contracts can be used to prove ownership if someone tries to take credit for your work and/or start a lawsuit against your company.
Business registration also opens up opportunities to get loans or other forms of financing by showing proof of liability on your company.