Can I protect my ideas before getting a copyright? How? 5 Answers as of June 03, 2015

I have been discussing an idea that I have with my friends and colleagues. Is there any sort of way that I can prove that I had this idea first before getting it copyrighted, so none of them can take it? I guess what I am asking is, is there a way that I can show that my idea existed at a certain time prior to anyone else thinking of it? Do I need to also prove that it was my idea first before speaking with a lawyer? I am fearful (more fearful about my friends and colleagues) that they might also steal my idea.

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Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
The fact that you have shared your idea with others could make it very hard (maybe impossible) to prove that you were the first to come up with the idea. Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works. Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. Next time - keep an "idea journal" - write down your ideas in a bound book - date the pages, keep a record. Then you can share and you will have something to prove that you had an idea as of a certain date.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 6/3/2015
Webb IP Law Group
Webb IP Law Group | Jason P Webb
You should speak with a lawyer first.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 6/3/2015
Michael M. Ahmadshahi
Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
First, you have to be clear what it is you want to protect. Ideas are NOT copyrightable. You can only protect ideas through filing a patent application. Assuming you are talking about a form of expressing the idea, then you must put that expression on a tangible medium like a piece of paper, or in digital format such a Word document. Once you do that, you have the copyright to that expression. It is advisable that you also register it with the Copyright Office.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/3/2015
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
A copyright is for an artistic expression like a song, book or picture. I think you want a patent. The patent office operates on a first-to-file process, not first-to-invent. When a patent application is prepared you will sign a declaration that you are the inventor.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/3/2015
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
Under U.S. copyright law, you can only protect the finished work. You can't prevent others from using the underlying idea in their own original works.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 6/3/2015
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