There is a general belief that inventors should be paranoid. Otherwise, someone will steal your invention and run away with it. Is this true? Should you be paranoid?
Why are inventors so paranoid? The main reason is that the more evolved a product is in its lifecycle, the more difficult it will be for someone else to copy it. This is not the case when an invention is just an idea or just a prototype. With sufficient expertise, the guy whom you show it to may copy it and market it, before you can do anything. So, what do you, as an inventor, do in such a situation?
If you are showing it to a fellow inventor, it definitely pays to be extra cautious, unless he is someone you can trust very much. Many friendships have ended because the one whom the inventor thought was his best friend copied his idea and tried to market it, sometimes successfully. So, do not show your invention to other inventors.
Now, what about invention marketing companies? Surely they also can easily steal your idea, can’t they? In some cases, yes, it can happen, if you are dealing with unscrupulous companies. However, a reputed company will do anything to keep their reputation amongst potential inventors intact. For them, business growth is directly proportional to their reputation. So, they will not do anything like that. Still, if you are worried, then simply avoid invention marketing companies, and start marketing yourself. It is hard work, but if you are confident that you can do it, by all means do so!
The last dilemma is involving a company interested in licensing your invention. What should you do, in this case? You cannot gloss over the details, since they want to know everything before signing a deal. So, how about getting them to sign an NDA?
Unfortunately, most of the companies will not agree to that at all. The reason is that it potentially opens them to a thousand different ways of getting sued. So, you have to show the details to them, and hope for the best. Will they steal your idea? Most of the times, no. They have much better things to do rather than making the whole company vulnerable to lawsuits. Has it never happened? Rarely, yes – companies have indulged in “creative borrowing” of ideas presented to them by inventors. But that is a risk which you have to take. You can be paranoid, but here, the question is whether you want to sell your idea to someone, and take a small risk of it being copied; or hold the invention to your chest, and have nothing to show for it, for the rest of your life!