Legal Question in Business Law in Ohio

I have an idea for a piece of software that I decided to use for a senior design group project for my college degree. It was my idea and I wound up doing 90% of the project myself despite having 4 other teammates. I'm now feeling like I want to continue this idea after graduation and turn it into a company/product but my worry is that the school or my teammates could claim ownership or copyright over my idea. What steps do I need to take to cover myself? I've asked this to my professors and they tell me they can't give any legal advice.

Asked on 3/02/23, 8:53 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Frank Natoli Natoli-Legal, LLC

There really is no one-answer for a situation like this. It depends on a number of factors. Ideas in themselves are not protectable. So if you are concerned about pursuing the general idea that should not be an issue. But if there is actual creative expression involved that was created (e.g., written code) that might be different. Further, most schools have policies involving the creation of IP within the classroom environment. So if this was utilizing school resources and done during class time, etc. the school policy might be relevant as well.

Lastly, a default general partnership is formed anytime two or more people come to together in pursuit of a profit motive. It is not clear whether that was the case here. I assume that such an endeavor in the context of a class project will change this outcome. Meaning, that no legal partership was formed if this was never intended to be a money making business in the first instance. But if it is deemed a partnership, then this might change any legal duties you owe the other partners.

All said, before you take any further action, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

If you would like to discuss further over a free phone consult, feel free to contact me anytime that is convenient.

You can review our outstanding client reviews here:

Kind regards,



[email protected]

DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.

Read more
Answered on 3/02/23, 9:10 am

Related Questions & Answers

More Business Law questions and answers in Ohio