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Stealing an "idea"

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PersonA had an idea for a website. There is irrefutable proof that nothing of the kind existed. He told his best friend of about 16 yrs. PersonB. PersonB started up a website EXACTLY like it was described to him.

PersonA said "HEY YOU STOLE MY WHOLE CONCEPT AND IDEA"

PersonB said "you can't sue over an idea".

PersonC made a website too and PersonB said on webcam that he was going to sue. Then later, he stated that his attorney evidently told him he could not sue over it.

PersonA is just livid to this day the entire concept and idea was his and PersonB could care less.

PersonB did offer a slight admission in an email stating "well, I guess I did remember you stating something about a website and giving away prizes" but you can't sue me over it.

True?

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Ideas are only protected if the inventor got a patent for it. So if PersonA never obtained a patent he's out of luck in suing for any damages over the use of his concept or business plan by PersonB. That's why if you think you have a great idea for a product or business method you don't go telling other people about it until you get a patent.

Designs for the actual look of the web pages, the exact wording of the computer code for the site, etc., may be protected by copyright law. So, if PersonA showed PersonB what the screen layout would look like and PersonB used that exact same look, PersonA might have a claim for copyright infringement.

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Ideas are only protected if the inventor got a patent for it.

As phrased, this is not correct. While it certainly is correct that certain ideas may be protected by obtaining patents, other methods exist for protection of ideas. Ideas can be contractually protected and states like California and New York (which are highly connected to the entertainment industry, an industry in which issues like this arise frequently) have developed bodies of case law that provide for idea protection in rather limited circumstances.

All that said, gratuitously sharing your web site idea with your friend is not going to result in protection for your idea under the laws of any state.

True?

It's not clear to which of the dozen or so concepts in your post this question pertains.

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I believed at the time he was a friend.

Let's say no one ever sold any food over the internet. I get this bright idea to sell apples.

I am not only going to sell apples, I am going to put in a shopping cart that people can use to order.

No one else has done anything like this ! (using that as a premise as an idea someone had and it was never done before)

I tell my friend. I am having a few problems getting my site up and running but it is not up.

A few weeks later, he's not only A. selling apples but B. has a shopping cart. He stole my "idea".

Then after he did it, everyone else jumped on the band wagon.

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A few weeks later, he's not only A. selling apples but B. has a shopping cart. He stole my "idea".

Then after he did it, everyone else jumped on the band wagon.

In this example, you didn’t obtain or apply for a patent prior to telling your friend or before he got his site up and running. You didn’t get a contract with your friend that prohibited him from using or disclosing your idea. You basically gave the idea away to your friend, and that gives you no recourse against him or any others who “jumped on the band wagon” and used your concept.

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Question: What if you had a website all ready going, however, no patent or copyright.  The website then folded and a new one opened doing the exact same thing?  Is there recourse the original website owner has?

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If there is no written agreement or NDA over an idea or if it is not patented, then it will be hard for the owner to prove that he really is the creator or the inventor of such idea. That's why it is very important that before you disclose to anyone the idea you have , you should have at least prepared a written agreement to be signed by both parties limiting the 2nd party from sharing, copying or reproducing such idea.

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