Legal Question in Intellectual Property in New Hampshire

Protecting my Advertising Idea

I live in the state of New Hampshire. I have an advertising idea I would like to present to a major corporation who advertises their product or service in every form of media, including television. If they decide to use my idea, how do I get credit, and/or money for the use of my idea? I would not want them to use it without getting finacially compensated for it. Thank you.

Asked on 8/12/03, 7:48 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Lawrence Graves Coolidge & Graves PLLC

Re: Protecting my Advertising Idea

This is a variant of the age-old problem of how to keep a recipient Big Corporation honest when Little Guy pitches a concept. Most of them have their own form of idea-submission agreement that purports to give Big Corporation discretion over what it does with Little Guy's idea and whether it needs to pay Little Guy at all. It is very difficult to convince anyone at the typical Big Corporation to even take the time to negotiate a reasonable disclosure agreement unless someone in the company with some clout has already decided that the idea is worth pursuing -- Catch 22. Hasbro's Web site contains (or at least used to contain) their idea submission form, which would give you an idea of what you are dealing with.

Little Guys take some comfort in cases where Big Corporations behave in a clearly piggish manner and actually are called to account (e.g., a recent case wherein Disney got slammed for taking an idea on a theme park and denied any compensation to the Little Guys who pitched it). Facts have to be highly incriminating, however.

When pitching to less monstrously Big corporations, you can present a well-crafted non-disclosure and anti-circumvention agreement that might actually be signed.

Best wishes,


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Answered on 8/13/03, 11:02 am
Martin Jenkins Martin Jenkins PLLC

Re: Protecting my Advertising Idea

The basic tool for these situations is a Non-Disclosure Agreement, or NDA. By signing, the party who hears about an idea is legally bound not to use it or reveal it to others. You can find blanks many places on the web, or ask me and I can mail one.

The major problem is getting anyone interested enough to talk to you, but willing to sign an NDA. Many major corporations now simply refuse to listen to any idea submissions because they fear being accused later of stealing the idea (even if they were already working on something similar).

You might have better luck at a smaller outfit, or simply take the plunge and submit your idea without NDA protection. You can still use a witness to verify when and what you are revealing, should there ever be a question.

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Answered on 8/13/03, 1:34 pm

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