Protecting Your Ideas

Hi All,

I'm currently putting together a presentation where we're pitching for a specific piece of work and one of the more senior guys in the organisation has warned us of the possibility of the potential client 'using' us to get ideas for modules that they will then go off and build themselves (they do have SL licences) - a little cynical, but I can see his point.

So, my question can you protect your ideas?

I've been advised 'not to give too much away' but at the same time I want to wow them with my ideas for their modules.

Has anyone come across this before? Have you got any ideas on how to deal with this?

Thank you


6 Replies
Nicola Appel

Hi Harri,

yes, that's a tough one! And, as far as I know, there's no real guarantee that you can avoid it. I've had colleagues where the potential client had their idea produced by another agency which offered their services for less money. The client then said that they had the same idea and unfortunately it's hard to prove otherwise. On the other hand it doesn't really speak for the client if they do things like that!

What I did in the past to raise their attention to it was to add a note at the end of the presentation reminding them that everything in this presentation was intellectual property and shouldn't be used without permission. I'm no legal expert so I don't know if that's binding at all (at least in Germany; might be different in the US).

I'm curious as well how others deal with it...!?

Phil Mayor

Hi Harri

You cannot really protect your ideas and this is on of the big issues of "on spec" work even if they are just demo's. This happens a lot in the graphic design business.

I am sure you don't have a problem, I would make it complex and ensure that to copy it would take time

Steve Job's once said "Good artists copy; great artists steal"

It is difficult to copyright concepts and style which at the end of the day is all you have.

I hand over the source files at the end of every project, in effect clients could stop working with me and use these to build copies of my work In reality clients who I work with who have storyline still work with me now.

Steve Flowers

Yes. I've seen this a couple of times. Another provider tries to replicate the idea but can't pull it off. In one case, the client ended up coming back to our team. Guess what happened to the rate?

You'll have a really hard time proving any kind of infringement. If the client steals your pitch and implements on their own or uses another vendor, you probably didn't want to work with them anyway. This is the sales challenge. Articulating value to make sure the client wants you for more than just the seed ideas.