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Question added to topic Legal Basics For StartupsSeptember 4, 2007

How do I copyright my idea for an e-business?

I have an idea for an e-business and I feel comfortable getting it up and running. My fear is that a more established company may steal my idea and run with it. How do I keep this from happening?
You cannot copyright an idea until there is some actual expression of the
idea. In addition, your idea may not be something that can receive copyright protection, which is limited to certain categories such as: literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion
pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural
works. Whether or not your idea may receive copyright protection, it can still be protected before it is implemented. The usual way to do this is to prepare a document known as a “Non-Disclosure/Non-Competition Agreement”, which should be signed by anyone having access to the idea during the development phase. You should consult an attorney familiar with these transactions to prepare the proper documentation.  Once you're up and running, your attorney can help you protect your intellectual property so that "theft" by another company can be a very costly mistake on their part.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq. is an award-winning New York City attorney, edutainer and author. Under her Ask The Business Lawyer brand, she reaches thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners with her legal services, professional speaking, information products, and LexAppeal weekly ezine. She also writes the Making It Legal blog.

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