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Inventors, Thinkers, and other Creators: Idea Submission Agreements: Caveat Emptor


I was talking to a researcher recently about submitting an “idea” to a company. They had come across an Idea Submission Agreement “online” and thought, “Jackpot!”

Not so fast, pal.

You’ll find many generic idea submission agreements online and companies also have their own submission agreement templates on their websites.

If you have a great idea but don’t intend to do any serious research or talk to an IP lawyer, please, at least do a little more sophisticated research on The Google (or, better yet, your public library) and, please, be skeptical of anything that appears too good to be true, because, as you know at the bottom of your heart, it is too good to be true.

Please look for books and articles written by lawyers or, at the very least, consider whose interests the writer is looking after.

If it helps, here’s one example of the type of “idea submission” article you should be reading, along with the related articles (at the bottom of the post). They should prove enlightening. I highlight this article not because the author is an expert, but because by reading this article you’ll see that this area of law is complex and fluid and that unless you keep up with the statutes and the case law you will not know how to protect your rights.

“Companies Don’t Accept Confidential Submission of Ideas or Inventions,” by Gene Quinn.

It also reinforces my admonition to people who think research is easy and that The Google will answer all:  Whatever. But don’t blame me if you don’t win, if you get ripped off, if you lose everything, just because “I read it online.”

Scams, spams, and other swindles are not the only thing to be on guard against online (and in 3-dimensional life, for that matter).

The bigger, maybe the biggest, danger the online-world presents is making people think they know more than they actually know – or making them doubt their own instincts that might be telling them, “this looks too good to be true so let me consult an expert before pulling out that credit card.”

Put on your Crap Detector whenever you’re online (or any place someone tells you to “buy this”).
I’m a big proponent of doing some of my own research or homework before consulting the experts, but I also tap into a large community of experts, law librarians, who know what they know and know what they don’t know.

(Aside: I’ve been reading “Ten Percent of Nothing,” by Jim Fisher. While the swindles in the book take place in a world before e-book publishing, you can be sure these swindlers’ tricks are still effective today and I bet you know a few people who are perfect marks for these scammers.)

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for research purposes only.  We do not provide legal advice, nor do we endorse any person, product, or company.

These blog posts are snippets of news, research tips, and commentary. They are starting places for legal research, not full legal research strategies or results. Please talk to a lawyer or law librarian if you want to research your legal issue thoroughly.

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