How can I protect my ideas when ending a partnership? 5 Answers as of September 08, 2015

I had an idea for an iPhone application, and partnered with a programmer and a designer to implement it two months ago - verbal agreement, they have 50% equity. We're close to launch-ready, but the relationship has been rocky as they won't listen to me. None of us is happy in the partnership, and we all agree launching under these conditions seems imprudent. I'd like to develop my idea with somebody else, or perhaps hire a programmer. The only written agreements are standard NDAs, including non-compete, they signed before I told them my idea. 1) A number of important features and strategies have been added to the original idea over the past two months. They initially suggested some of these ideas, but many of them were formed through our joint discussions. Can I safely use these features in my new company? Does it matter who thought of what during the partnership? 2) How different from the designer's layout and appearance must I deviate to be safe (he's mad, and says I can't use his designs)? 3) Since I brought the original idea, and they signed a non-compete agreement, they aren't allowed to release their code are they? I don't want to compete with them. Thanks for helping me out!

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Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
Visit a lawyer now. You need a written agreement with your partners - so the questions raised below can be addressed before any break-up. New ideas created during the partnership are likely the property of the partnership - not you; and you likely cannot use them without permission, Visit a lawyer now. You don't need to get into litigation - as only the lawyers win there.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 9/8/2015
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
You could file or a copyright or for a patent. Either type of application will require all of the inventors to sign as inventors. If you file for your own application, new novelty will need to be an improvement that is not obvious from the previous invention or from ALL prior art. The patent office currently operates on a "first-to-file" basis, so the first person(s) that file for a patent has priority.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/7/2015
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
While the original idea may be yours, any work that was done under the partnership probably belongs to all three of you. Unless you can get rights releases from each of them, you would be wise to avoid using the features, including coding, that were developed during the partnership. And next time, resolve the business part, including establishing who owns what, before getting caught up in the creative part.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 9/7/2015
Michael M. Ahmadshahi
Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
The NDA which you and your partners signed is very important here such as whether it was a unilateral or multilateral NDA. You should have an attorney review it. Also, depending on what was included in the NDA as far as assignment of rights, you might own all the original and subsequent ideas or just the original idea with the subsequent ideas owned by all 3 of you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/7/2015
Microtechnology Law & Analysis | Daniel Flamm
This sounds like a classic result of failing to get legal help in the first place. It may get very expensive now and from your description it is not at all clear what you can salvage. I would suggest to organize what documents you have and find a highly skilled and well-recommended attorney to help you sort this out, assuming the value of the business will support the expenditure.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/7/2015
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