The best way to avoid your idea being copied?

I have a problem: copyright doesnt really protect ideas, like ebay can be copied again and again as it has. I have an idea, but know it will probably get copied, or simply dont want to risk losing a large amount of the profit. Are there tactics to avoid this? I had thought about promoting a few websites with the same idea, is this a good tactic? Its the only one i can think of at the moment! Also, i cam to the conclusion that it was a bad idea to advertise on your site that it was the only one of its kind! As usual, non-plastic talk answers would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks.

If you could keep an idea from being copied, there would be only one type of cola, one brand of car, dish soap, lawn mower, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Unfortunately, you’re not going to hear the answers you WANT to hear … because there are no magic tactics to keep your idea from being copied. Even if you file paperwork with the government, get trademarks, copyrights, patents and every other legal entity you can to prevent it … there is going to be someone that is going to take your idea and copy it, but change it / improve upon it just a little bit and make it their own. That is the way the world works. There are no monopolies on anything, there will always be competition.

But, if you really want the one and only method of guaranteeing your idea is never copied or stolen, I will tell you what it is …

Don’t tell anyone!

If nobody knows about it, nobody can copy it! That won’t do much to earn any income at all, so it’s probably not a feasible option, but it’s your only real option you have to ensure it doesn’t happen.

Otherwise, find the creator of another idea that has never been copied before and ask them how they achieved it … I don’t know of any ideas like that, but if you find one, they would hold the key.

The best way of not having people copy your idea is to have an idea that is not worth copying - that is what most people do.

I’m working on copying Google’s “search engine” idea right now. And man, when I do, they’re so going down!

The best way not to be copied doesn’t exist, but by being the first you get a head start in the competition, and if you can keep innovating, the copies won’t be as appealing as the original, take if it still was the digg of the beginning, any pligg install would be better. But because it was first AND kept on innovating, it’s still the top.
Your idea will be copied if it’s good, the problem is not having a copy become more successfull than your original.

It’s hard to copyright or protect a good idea. If it is really unique you might be able to get some exclusivity for a while. It also depends on what the product is. If it is a website, keep a low down, develop it will, functional well! And run with it. It should give you the headstart, benefit from it in a smart way.

I think the origional poster had some sort of malformed view of the world that somehow you can own a monopoly, unfortunately even if you are granted a patent or trademark on a particular idea or mechanism, someone could simply take the idea, improve upon it, rerelease it as something else and your “protection” means nothing. The only thing anyone can protect against is a carbon copy (clone), if it was not for taking an idea an improving upon it for a new service we certainly would not have Google. The real irony is the origional poster probably had an idea which has already been produced in some form on the web and he just isn’t aware of it, in my experience genuinely new ideas are VERY few and far between and if he keeps it to himself someone else is bound to think of it and create it while he sits in the basement trying to hide it. Take Twitter for example, seems unique, but really it’s just an evolution of the instant messenger status tag (as they themselves have stated in interviews), I think much of fresh innovation is dead, its more about evolution than innovation these days.

You take a good example, today everybody is talking about twitter, but I remember clearly that maybe 2 years ago or a bit less there was which was more well known, and then twitter too, it seemed there was a choice to make with 2 useless things, I decided to give up on both. Now obviously twitter is on every blog with the blue bird icon and where is jaiku ? Wait… ok I went there, and I see it’s still there and at the bottom I see Google, now I remember it’s been bought by google, yes, so why isn’t it the one everybody uses now? It’s exactly the same thing as twitter and was there at the same time when nobody cared about this thing.
So it’s not really about who has the idea first, but it’s how well you market it, find something that ticks and get the ball rolling, the more people adopt it, the more it becomes the original, even if it wasn’t (maybe it was, who cares?)

Under the strict reading of “avoiding” copying, rather than absolutely preventing copying, there is an answer. I doubt it’s the answer the poster wants.

Step One: Don’t have one big idea. First, understand the psychology of monkey-see, monkey-do copiers. They’re generally lazy schemers looking for the easy road to success.

The copying Google’s search engine means copying Google’s success fallacy is a good example. Google’s success isn’t just the code, and that’s the same with the secret formulas and whatnot of other products.

A successful product or service made of many well executed, innovative but smaller ideas is almost impossible to copy. People are bad system thinkers. They repeatedly fail to tease out anything but the more superficial and simple elements of complex systems.

Try as they might, they don’t get it that a successful company is made up of quality personnel, insightful and customer focussed policies, and right on down to how the phones are answered and the way invoices are designed. Schemers don’t want to hear that, they want the one “big idea.”

The essence of their very motivation to copy makes it almost impossible for them to delve any deeper. Copiers look for shortcuts, and anything that doesn’t look like a shortcut will be invisible to them.

Step Two: Human Factors, not technology. Technology is easy to copy. The human factors insights which make technology usable and desirable is exponentially harder.

Big ideaism practically demands secrecy and development in a user free vacuum. Consequently the big idea is only successful in the inventor’s head.

And herein lies the requisite for human factors: Fall out of love with your idea. Fall in love with changing it to fit your market. Again, this is something most schemers can’t contemplate. They would rather fail than harm their precious big idea.

Fall in love with markets, then develop something wonderful for them. Don’t fall in love with the clever trick you can do with Java or PHP. Most of your competitors would sooner chew off a leg than do a user test – so become an innovator in user testing your product or service.


iPhone Launch, AT&T Vs. Apple Store Exact same gadget, yet [URL=“”]Apple store iPhone sales outshine AT&T by seven to one. It’s not the technology. Stop looking there. Based on technology, Apple failed and went out of business a decade ago. [URL=“”]Here’s how AT&T handles your iPhone bill. When your shockingly bad understanding of human factors goes viral, you’re doing it wrong.