Protecting Ideas: Common Misconceptions

    Dear Habrahabr, once again discussing whether it is necessary to protect ideas and how to do it. RMA decided to give the floor to Pavel Shinkarenko, a professional lawyer and lecturer in the “Management in Internet Technologies” program. Under the cut - the analysis of several "rake", which many for some reason stumble.

    The last time Paul spoke about the protection of existing services or the site and how the knowledge of the legal intricacies of the project helps to increase the price in the eyes of lenders and investors. But before you “sell yourself” to investors, you obviously need to implement the project, bring it to a certain stage. Let's look at a few typical misconceptions that people are guided by just starting a startup.

    One by one

    A “simple” idea is by definition not “protectable”. Otherwise, the whole world would have had one single online store and only one social network. The list of what would exist in one copy, if you could get the rights to the “bare” idea, you can go on for quite some time. As long as you know only the “what” and make plans in your head, there is simply nothing to protect. By the way, there’s nothing to steal. This is the same as trying to recreate a Coca-Cola recipe by the composition of the product on the label.

    At this stage, only confidential information is protected. By yourself: if you do not say anything, no one will know anything. Continue to develop the idea from the state of “what it will be” to the stage of “how it will be”. When the mosaic has developed into a concept, and you begin to prepare for development, then you can protect the full, detailed terms of reference. With the transition to development, the project will have a set of copyright objects that can be protected according to the accepted norms of Russian and international laws, and which can be earned. How - we told earlier.

    Avaricious pays everyone that he has

    Send yourself a registered letter with a detailed description of the idea / texts / notes of your own composition and keep it unopened in case of litigation - in order to present a date stamp. Very common advice that well-wishers give to authors. And a very popular misconception. No, you can try. Just remember: if a letter is all that you have done to protect a developed idea, then this is not serious.

    Services for delivery of registered mail pleasantly overshadow the prices for the work of patent attorneys. And the “Russian Post” is pleased with statistics, according to which more and more letters reach the addressees. Suppose you happily (and in most cases it should be) avoided the loss of your letter by the operator. And then the day has come when you present a whole envelope to the judges, the opponent and his lawyers.

    This is where difficulties can begin. The minutes of the meeting should be conducted according to the template, but many court employees have a bad habit over time to simplify its filling in their own way. If the opponent’s lawyer proves that the protocol was conducted incorrectly (and if there is a violation, it will not be difficult), then the printed registered letter will lose value as evidence. Unfortunately this is the case.

    Suppose everything is fine with the protocol. But you are a busy person and could not attend the meeting: as a result, the court decision did not take place. And, if so, then the printed envelope again loses all power.

    Some recommendations

    Prevention is cheaper than treatment. And if you once understood how you can make money on an idea, it is worth spending time and some money to prove your rights. Having rejected common sense a registered letter to yourself, you can turn to lawyers. Usually they provide the service of "proof of time of presentation of the document." Naturally, you should not go to them with one leaf; and you should not rely on such an option as a sufficient and only necessary protection of your rights.

    Remember that some objects of law are better protected in addition. So, a successful solution for protecting the interface and design of your service will be the registration of an “industrial design”. For her, it is enough to present a graphic image. This option is especially good if you are creating a service or application in which there are elements that you can earn later in a different way. Let's say you come up with virtual characters that successfully complement the look of the resource, make it unique, attractive and popular. The presence of a patent for an industrial design will allow these characters to be used to create another product (say, toys) without unnecessary trouble. But it is worth keeping in mind that such a document is valid only on the territory of the state that issued it.

    The text is based on a lecture by Pavel Shinkarenko for students of the RMA program “Management in the field of Internet technologies”. Pavel runs the Seneschal Neumann Law Firm and teaches the Legal Basics of Internet Business course at RMA. It specializes in intellectual property law and the support of Internet projects, as well as transactions for their sale. He helped in bringing to the market and "packaging" the projects "CompareSam", "Investkafe", iMarker, etc.

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