What can I do if a friend stole my idea? 5 Answers as of July 07, 2011

Do I have any legal rights if one of my associates I was working with stole my idea? We were going to work on it together and is now pursuing the idea without me. I did not have him sign an NDA, I just have proof of a trail of emails between us discussing my idea. Thank you for your help!

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Intellectual Property Center, LLC
Intellectual Property Center, LLC | Ak Shaf
Currently the U.S. is a first to invent country and the true inventor (or inventors) are the only ones who can file a patent application. I would suggest meeting with a patent attorney to discuss the specifics of your issue and look at filing a patent. Good Luck.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 7/7/2011
DANIEL NESBITT | Hasse & Nesbitt
Before things get out of hand, you should see an IP attorney and/or litigation attorney about taking specific action to halt any activity that might jeopardize your rights in the invention in the US and worldwide.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 6/22/2011
Barton Barton & Plotkin
Barton Barton & Plotkin | Maurice Ross
Ideas generally are not covered by intellectual property laws. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Patent, trademark and copyright laws protect people and companies who develop and produce tangible inventions, works of art, films, journalism or literature, and/or branded products and services. If you through around ideas in discussion with your friend, and if there was no NDA, chances are you have no claim against your friend. On the other hand, if your had more than an idea, but had already produced an invention based on the idea and/or a film, movie, book, or music based on the idea, then you might be have a valid claim. The only way to know if you have a valid claim is for you to retain IP counsel, lay out all the facts and circumstances, and then determine whether you had more than a mere idea. You need to understand something-our system of IP laws does not reward people merely because they have a good idea. We reward people who take a good idea and transform it into something tangible, valuable, useful, and real.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/22/2011
Eclipse Group, LLP
Eclipse Group, LLP | Travis Burch
Yes, you can sue him for breach of an oral partnership, misappropriation under common law and the uniform trade secret act.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/20/2011
Malhotra Law Firm, PLLC
Malhotra Law Firm, PLLC | Deepak Malhotra
It would be hard to claim there was a theft of trade secrets if you didn't keep the idea confidential. You could consider filing a patent application. Only a true inventor can properly file a patent application. A patent application must be filed within one year of the first sale, offer for sale, or publication, whichever came first, under current US law. We will likely soon switch to a first to file system, though, with no grace period except in limited circumstances.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/20/2011
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