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Question added to topic Legal Basics For StartupsJanuary 7, 2009

How do I protect my company and idea from the bigger companies in my industry?

I am entering the sun block arena with a new niche product. However when the big companies see what I am doing they will probably just take the idea and push me under. The idea is not patentable, so is there any protection or do I just have to try to hang in there? Also, will big companies buy my idea or just take it?
Ah, the classic David-and-Goliath situation. Generally, ideas are not protectable, so if you have a new idea for, let's say a sun block for dogs, you can't prevent someone else from developing a sun block for dogs. You could protect the sun block formula (through a patent or trade secret), or the branding identification with your particular line (through trademark or trade dress).

If you've taken the steps to properly protect your intellectual property, you might be a more attractive target for acquisition (instead of outright theft). Consult with an intellectual property attorney to develop a plan of action (and a budget) for protecting your product.

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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