How can I avoid intellectual theft when discussing the product that I want manufactured with potential designers and fabricators?

How should I bring this project to life, keeping in mind that I don't want to be handing my design over to multiple manufacturers, as I'm afraid of having my idea stolen. The metal product will be a small detailed item (no bigger than 3" long) with a removable section (think a sword and its sheath). To be made of titanium. I will first need it drawn in CAD, prototyped, and then manufactured.


That's a common fear, but you are better off putting that aside and just going for it. Instead of worrying about someone taking your idea, have any manufacturer, pattern maker, etc sign an NDA, and move forward with your idea. And most importantly, work with people you can trust. Even if your idea is revolutionary (and I'm sure it's excellent), the people you talk to are most likely busy enough with their own endeavors to copy someone else's project. Not to mention they aren't going to be as passionate about it as you are. I'm happy to help if you need advice or a contract. Good luck and take action!

Answered 6 years ago

I have been involved in over 40 technology dependent startups. The best protection is dealing with reputable people. A practical management solution is to farm out manufacturing of the individual components to more than one (maybe not "multiple") manufacturer. You can protect yourself under a contract as well. The second best protection is to spend money on an IP lawyer and get a patent, or patents, to protect the idea. You can also copyright the plans and the schematics. All of this of course assumes that you have money to defend the patent and to sue people who break the contracts. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to get in touch.

Answered 6 years ago

I work with inventors on commercializing their inventions, which basically means bringing the inventions to market and protecting them along the way. I do the business and technology work my IP attorney partners on the legal work. Together with my partners we've worked on transactions with an aggregate value of over $500 million.

In this case, you may want to consider filing a design patent, which are typically pretty simple and inexpensive to file. Because it sounds like your product's uniqueness is mostly in its design and you have specific design specifications in mind, a design patent could be a good fit for you, if you do decide that you want to proceed with a more formalized protection plan for your invention.

Best of luck and always happy to discuss further on a call!

Answered 6 years ago

I've had the same questioning once, when I've met my co-founder at
He told me something I always remember. If you have a great idea, you were probably have been thinking about it and every detail at least some months ago. So what you can tell in a fraction of time to someone to give a brief idea, won't ever describe the amount of information, specificity, sub ideas, contacts, business model, and every minor detail you've been planing since then.
So don't be afraid to share your idea since no one would be able to execute as well as you, if you really have something powerful and value in your mind.
What's more, speak about it with every person you met, and get as much feedback as you can (the sooner, the better)

I hope you find my advice useful.
Good luck with the project!

Answered 6 years ago

Intellectual property (IP) is the lifeblood of every organization. It did not used to be. As a result, now more than ever, it is a target, placed squarely in the crosshairs by various forms of cyber-attack. Your company's IP, whether that's patents, trade secrets or just employee know-how, may be more valuable than its physical assets. Security pros must understand the dark forces that are trying to get this information from your company and piece it together in a useful way. Some of these forces come in the guise of "competitive intelligence" researchers who, in theory, are governed by a set of legal and ethical guidelines carefully wrought by the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP). Others are outright spies hired by competitors, or even foreign governments, who will stop at nothing, including bribes, thievery, or even a pressure-activated tape recorder hidden in your CEO's chair.
IP protection is a complex duty with aspects that fall under the purview of legal, IT, human resources, and other departments. Ultimately a chief security officer (CSO) or risk committee often serves to unify intellectual property protection efforts. With protection from cyber-attack now critical, the chief information security officer (CISO) now plays a major role.
Here are few ways in which you can protect your intellectual property:
1. Know what intellectual property you have got: If all employees understand what needs to be protected, they can better understand how to protect it, and from whom to protect it. To do that, CSOs must communicate on an ongoing basis with the executives who oversee intellectual capital. Meet with the CEO, COO and representatives from HR, marketing, sales, legal services, production, and R&D at least once a quarter. Corporate leadership must work in concert to adequately protect IP.
2. Know where your intellectual property is: If you focus your efforts on your core IT systems to secure IP, you will overlook other areas where it might be stored or processed. These include:
I. Printers, copiers, scanners, and fax machines: Your input/output devices all store the documents they process, and they are typically networked and connected to remote management systems. Proper policies and procedures need to be in place to purge these documents and protect against unauthorized access.
II. Cloud applications and file-sharing services: These might be company-managed or shadow IT. You need to know what your employees are using so you can restrict unauthorized cloud services and ensure that company-sanctioned services are properly configured and secured.
III. Employees’ personal devices: An employee might email a document home, typically for benign reasons. Educate your employees on the proper handling of IP and have monitoring systems in place to track where your IP is being sent.
IV. Third-party systems: IP is often shared with business partners, suppliers, or customers. Make sure your contracts with those parties define how those third parties must secure your IP and have controls in place to ensure those terms are followed.

3. Prioritize your intellectual property: CSOs who have been protecting IP for years recommend doing a risk and cost-benefit analysis. Make a map of your company's assets and determine what information, if lost, would hurt your company the most. Then consider which of those assets are most at risk of being stolen. Putting those two factors together should help you figure out where to best spend your protective efforts (and money).
4. Label valuable intellectual property: If information is confidential to your company, put a banner or label on it that says so. If your company data is proprietary, put a note to that effect on every log-in screen. This seems trivial, but if you wind up in court trying to prove someone took information they weren't authorized to take, your argument won't stand up if you can't demonstrate that you made it clear that the information was protected.
5. Secure your intellectual property both physically and digitally: Physical and digital protection is a must. Lock the rooms where sensitive data is stored, whether it's the server farm or the musty paper archive room. Keep track of who has the keys. Use passwords and limit employee access to important databases.
6. Educate employees about intellectual property: Awareness training can be effective for plugging and preventing IP leaks, but only if it is targeted to the information that a specific group of employees needs to guard. When you talk in specific terms about something that engineers or scientists have invested a lot of time in, they are very attentive. As is often the case, humans are often the weakest link in the defensive chain. That is why an IP protection effort that counts on firewalls and copyrights but does not also focus on employee awareness and training, is doomed to fail. In most cases, IP leaves an organization by accident or through negligence. Make sure your employees are aware of how they might unintendedly expose IP. According to a February 2019 study by Egress Software Technologies, the most common technologies through which sensitive data like IP are accidentally breached are:
I. External email like a Gmail or Yahoo account (51 percent)
II. Corporate email (46 percent)
III. File sharing via FTP (40 percent)
IV. Collaboration tools like Slack or Dropbox (38 percent)
V. SMS or instant messaging apps like Whatsapp (35 percent)
With email, IP might be sent to the wrong person because:
I. The sender used a wrong address--for example, Outlook auto-inserted an email address for someone other than the intended recipient
II. The recipient forwarded the email
III. An attachment contained hidden content, such as in an Excel tab
IV. Data was forwarded to a personal email account
7. Know your tools to protect intellectual property: A growing variety of software tools are available for tracking documents and other IP stores. Data loss prevention (DLP) tools are now a core component of many security suites. They not only locate sensitive documents, but also keep track of how they are being used and by whom. Encrypting IP in some cases will also reduce risk of loss. The Egress survey data shows that only 21 percent of companies require encryption when sharing sensitive data externally, and only 36 percent require it internally.
8. Take a big picture view: If someone is scanning the internal network and your intrusion detection system goes off, somebody from IT typically calls the employee who is doing the scanning and tells him to stop. The employee offers a plausible explanation, and that is the end of it. Over time, the human resources group, the audit group, the individual's colleagues, and others all notice isolated incidents, but nobody puts them together and realizes that all these breaches were perpetrated by the same person. Therefore, communication gaps among info security and corporate security groups can be so harmful. IP protection requires connections and communication between all the corporate functions. The legal department must play a role in IP protection. So does human resources, IT, R&D, engineering, graphic design and so on.
9. Apply a counter-intelligence mindset: If you were spying on your own company, how would you do it? Thinking through such tactics will lead you to consider protecting phone lists, shredding the papers in the recycling bins, convening an internal council to approve your R&D scientists' publications, or other ideas that may prove worthwhile for your particular business.
10. Think globally: Over the years, France, China, Latin America and the former Soviet Union states have all developed reputations as places where industrial espionage is widely accepted, even encouraged, as a way of promoting the country's economy. Many other countries are worse. A good resource for evaluating the threat of doing business in different parts of the world is the Corruption Perceptions Index published each year by Transparency International. In 2016, the Corruption Perceptions Index ranked the following 12 countries as being "perceived as most corrupt": Somalia, South Sudan, North Korea, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan, Guinea-Bissau, Venezuela, Iraq and Eritrea.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 8 months ago

This is a great question. I understand that I am late in answering but I will do my best. In the business world you can never guarantee anything. In my experience there are two things you can do.

One find a supplier/designer/manufacturer that you trust. One that wants to establish a good pipeline of potential customers and stealing ideas would detract business. This is a little harder and would require good research and maybe searching for designers that cost a little more. But it will be worth it in the long run if they are trustworthy.

Two, create a non-disclosure agreement. This will allow that whatever you and the other party discuss is considered a private discussion and not a public disclosure. For the patent, this will allow your design to still be considered undisclosed and thus, still eligible for a patent.

Hopefully, this will give you a strong start in your new product. Good luck! If you need any help in design or CAD modeling I would be happy to help, please know that I am available to assist and I have experience in this!

Answered 4 months ago

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