Legal Question in Intellectual Property in California

My background is in online dating.

I see an opportunity to create a premium service for the dating industry by taking an existing product and applying it for the first time to this industry.

How do I protect my idea?

Ideally, my goal is to partner with someone who can help protect my concept and create the legal infrastructure for this enterprise. I appreciate any feedback.

Asked on 2/18/13, 3:29 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Ruth Ryan-Cruz Ryan-Cruz Law, APC

I recommend that you contact a business attorney with intellectual property and brand management experience. It's a little tricky to answer your question because as I read it, multiple other questions come to mind that may alter the answer. For example, is the "existing product" something you developed? Also, which industry are you referring to?

To develop this business idea you'll want to start by protecting yourself from any personal liability that may come from such a service. Furthermore, you'll need to establish some legal services agreements, website terms and conditions, site policies and a number of other agreements to establish a solid site since the beginning. You'll also need to know local and state codes regarding your business, business name, and services.

This is only intended to provide you with a general understanding of the types of actions you'll want to explore with a business attorney. Feel free to contact me to discuss your question in depth and obtain additional information (619) 400-4942.

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Answered on 2/18/13, 3:37 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Protecting a business idea involves the following:

1. Determine whether the idea, or any important aspect of it, can be protected by copyright, trademark or patent. The do so to the extent possible. Here, this seems unlikely, but who knows?

2. Disclose only to parties who are willing to sign your non-disclosure, non-compete agreement. Drafting and getting signatures on such agreements can be tough and should be custom-done rather than relying on boilerplate documents you might be able to download from the Internet or buy at a legal-stationery shop.

3. Often neglected by folks giving advice on this subject, consider the character and possible motivation of each person or entity with whom you discuss your ideas. No amount of documentation will fully protect you against a crook who sees an opportunity to use your ideas as a starting point, modify them somewhat, then launch a similar enterprise.

4. To the extent you may be looking for a lawyer-partner, keep in mind that lawyers are subject to discipline, including disbarment, for professional-ethical errors, Indeed, there are even some rules about going into business with clients.

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Answered on 2/18/13, 4:49 pm

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