How to protect your IP?

by Alilpups. Posted on Sep 10, 2020    0    20

Say, I needed to pitch/share my business plan with some potential business partners. How do you make sure they didn’t steal your ideas away? I know I heard a lot about ideas is basically worthless when you can’t execute them, but I’ve spent weeks on building this deck with a well thought plan in every details.

I’m gonna need to pitch to some of the potential business partners where they are quite experience in building products, so I wouldn’t surprise if they could just take it and build it by themselves.

I’ve thought of censoring some of the data take out some of the important points but then it will makes the whole slide seems a bit ambiguous. I don’t know what should I do. Any advice?



You’re being paranoid, it means nothing if someone sees your idea i mean eventually you’re want people to see it right? People saw amazon but nobody could execute it same goes with eBay, Facebook, tinder, ect...

It’s all about execution, someone would need to have the skills to develop it, the skills to market it, and the creativity to keep improving it.

If you’re idea is revolutionary and really that awesome someone is going to copy you no matter what anyways but not until you have proven to be successful and at that point who cares just keep being better kinda like the MySpace, Facebook war and we know who won that war lol


I think he is paranoid because he lacks the skills or funds to make it come true.

one_jr 1

Typically NDAs are employed for this, but most of the time they are not worth the paper they are written on. Most people, especially investors, as a rule refuse to sign any NDAs anyway.

Ultimately if you don't trust potential partners with your idea then I think you need to really have a think whether you want to be doing business with them at all. If they're your only option they will realise this soon enough that they are and this can cause more damage than good down the line (leverage and negotiating power, share allocation and ensuing impact on running the company, strategy and governance)

If you really need them for something specific then perhaps you could treat them as your suppliers and act accordingly.

Ultimately you have to weight the risk-reward - if they do decide to steal your idea and do it without you, what would be your move?

I would also look into protecting IP via trademarks and patents dependent on what the product is.


Source: own experience with 3 startups, dealing with numerous investors, vc's and business partners.

  Alilpups 1

Thanks for your advice, everything seems making sense. I guess I will bring it back to the workshop table and tinkle it first before I can find a potential partner I can trust. Thanks again because this has been very helpful.

one_jr 2

No problem and glad I could help, and a couple more thoughts:

Trust is one of those ropy things that either you have it or you don't, but you can never be 100% sure.

A good strategy is to deal with people who have demonstrated to have some form of a moral compass, and to ALWAYS appeal to people's self-interest - in the case of business partnerships this takes numerous forms, one of them being how they stand to benefit from doing this venture and how you are needed and indispensable to make it happen. Good things can happen once you figure this out. Good luck!

  Alilpups 1

Thank you, I’ll make sure I note that down.

genuinelywhatever 1

When I was 20 years old I paid a lawyer $250 to tell me that I just had to be the best at what I do.
Be careful who you share ideas with and be thoughtful about why you feel inclined to share with them.
Why do you want to share it with this group if you’re concerned the’ll steal? Can the work be done on your own? An NDA can help if you’re willing to pay a lawyer to draft a backed contract, but you can’t protect commonwealth information, only truly proprietary information. Putting the work in and having your own leverage and momentum is the key.

  Alilpups 1

Thanks for the advice! Finally something that is useful. The reason I’m more cautious is because I don’t know this person irl and partnership could go either way, that’s why I’m asking if there’s any way to reduce the risk. I’ve talked to some of my friends that working in legal field. Basically they said the same thing, NDA could help but in the end it’s really up to trust ultimately. I’ll take your words for thoughts, thanks again.

WouterKonings 2

There are quite a few best practices you can apply in this situation. Like documenting your progress and the communications (and sending a follow-up mail with a summary of the meeting). To provide free advice we wrote Intellectual Property, the full article. with tips, links, costs, and NDA templates.

  Alilpups 1

This seems like a good read, thanks for sharing with me!

AnonJian 2

Most of the people who are skilled enough to help are experienced enough to know the NDA and 'the inherently awesome idea' are a red flag. Next thing that get nixed is market information and we're off to Build It And They Will Come.

Basically they have money and contacts, and the ability to perform market testing. That trumps anything you bring to the table.

Glass half full, not being fools they don't look to steal unmonetized unproven ideas. Walmart is getting sued by Yeti for a second time for knock offs. Amazon is alleged to rip off their vendor's best selling products.

Note they are not being taken to court for even looking at products that are any less than best sellers.

  Alilpups 1

Yes I came asking this question with bearing that in mind. Idea doesn’t worth a damn thing I’d you can’t execute it. The problem however is I’m currently trying to look for a partner online, meaning a total stranger I’ve never met before. I know I can build it but with my resources and knowledge it will definitely take longer time.

So I’m asking if I can do anything to reduce the risks when I’m doing this.


Most of the risks are business failure due to an inability to deal with inconvenient and unpleasant information.

One of the biggest risk multipliers is having not one damn thing to contribute but The Idea. Now maybe you have a lot of business experience or some skills you didn't disclose.

If not, being the idea guy is the biggest reason fueling partners seeing you as dead weight that needs to be cut out of the project at everyone's earliest convenience. That ain't a secret an NDA can help with.

When the product or service is truly innovative -- don't be that guy or this other guy or any of those -- then who the hell would care?

So there are two of you going after a rapidly expanding market -- so what? Be glad you get to study people worth following because you need that, even if they grab you bodily and heave you out of the building. Their expert pioneering is reducing the risk you need to reduce in starting up.

Grow a spine.

Shirtman88 2

Then use your time and energy building it yourself.

Trying to find a partner online and it working out are so slim. Just get busy doing it yourself

  Alilpups 1

Make sense. I’ve thinking a lot about it, it might be slow at least I can get it done. Thanks!

Shirtman88 2

Exactly and partnerships are hard. I’ve been in a couple and finding someone that jumps in and has your same drive is hard to find. Most people lose motivation then you have a mess

  Alilpups 1

Yeah. I get that a lot, when another partner started to lose motivation, things started to get messy. Nobody willing to put more efforts. Guess I should maybe look around and start with someone I already know well irl.

Shirtman88 2

Or just do it yourself. Don’t feel like you need a partner. I’d never want to partner again

winniethepooh101 3

Some sort of NDA that says they can't disclose the idea to a third party and they cannot invest in a similar idea if they choose to not go ahead with you. your idea can never be fully protected if you tell someone.

  Alilpups 1

Yeah I’ve actually read about that. There’s no way you can 100% protect your idea, so it’s really up to trust. I do not know the person well, so I’m hesitating what to do rn.