Hey! That’s my idea!

finger denotes silence

Ideas are nebulous things.

An idea can be useless passing thought, or the route to fame and fortune. Some people place a huge amount of importance on their protection. Whereas other prefer to let them go free.

Less experienced copywriters, authors and journalists will worry about people ‘stealing their ideas’. As if the notion to interview Brad Pitt or a hot take on fidget spinners has only occurred to them. But, shocking as it may be…

There is no copyright in ideas.

Of course, this applies strictly to ideas that have had nothing done with them. So, things that have not become a film, a book, a piece of software or even an article. Your idea for life-size killer robot ponies is stealable until you at least get to work on them or apply for a copyright, patent or trademark. Sucks to be you. Get the monkey wrench and the jodhpurs out.

So, what can you do to protect your ideas?

Well, aside from getting cracking on them, there is nothing that you can do, bar not telling anyone what they are. Your value as someone who has ideas is not in the single potentially great idea you have. It is in both the execution of those ideas and the ability to have a whole lot more. Relax a bit. Not everyone is out to swindle you.

When being interviewed about another project, I once said that my ideal job would be to have someone come around on a Friday and pay me for all the ideas I had been unable to use that week. Now, that has sort of come true. I am happy to sell ideas on in the knowledge that there are hundreds coming up right behind them. Each client inspires new thoughts and new ideas. That is how original thinking works.

If you want to work in sectors that rely on ideas then you have to be confident in selling the ones you have, working up others and knowing you can have more. Intellectual property is hugely valuable, but not until you add value.

So stop worrying and start thinking. Ideas are powerful. But if they sit unused they simply die, their potential untested. Get your ideas out there and move on.


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