questionshow long to wait to "steal" someone's idea?

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I need more information. Tell me, in specific detail, about this idea.

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@caffeine_dude: It does seem this "friend of a friend" could be "Woot!".

It that case, yes, steal the idea now.

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Sounds like if this person is actually a "friend" of a friend, s/he would appreciate your advice and probably let you in on it if you came to him/her with a comprehensive business model. Then you wouldn't have to "steal" anything. And if s/he sees you putting in more effort or doing a better job, it's possible s/he would be satisfied with a cut and let you take over. Sometimes all people need is some constructive criticism - and you could reap the benefits. Good luck!

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I mean this in the kindest, most helpful, way.

Get a lawyer. Get a very good lawyer.

This is about a friend of a friend? Be prepared to have one less friend. One way, or another, you should expect the friend to take sides, and that may or may not come down in your favor.

Maybe you'll get lucky, and become rich, and no one will sue you over it. I'll bet against that, though (not the getting rich part, the lawsuit part).

Mind you, I'm not telling you not to do it. I'm just reminding you that there are obvious pitfalls. I am quite serious about needing a lawyer.

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Like, 2 seconds. The fact of the matter is that unless the process is patented, trademarked, or copyrighted, you have every right to rip it right off. If you do it better, your business will survive. If you do better than him, by all means buy his business from him. If you fail, he can buy your shattered dream from you.

This is called capitalism, and we do it every day.

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Heyyyyyyyyy look my post is in a future courtroom! HI JURY I HOPE THIS MAKES YOU LAUGH

(☞ ゚ヮ゚)☞ PAPER TRAIL ☜(゚ヮ゚☜)

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@udavidj: Nothing to buy out. Company is just an idea which means a zero valuation.

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If it's just a business model, you will want to study up on "Trade Dress". See Two Pesos vs. Taco Cabana. The look of your business is part of your ownership, and when Two Pesos restaurants tried to essentially clone Taco Cabana they lost big, and now the Two Pesos near where I shop is a Taco Cabana. If it's an actual new idea, you can try racing him to the patent office. But I believe (IANAL) that he could still sue you if he can demonstrate that you did not actually come up with the idea yourself but learned of it due to a mutual acquaintance.

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a business idea is not copyright/protected.

I assume this is a service business? As long as your business name/logos are not similar, you can go with whatever you want.. but ya, you might have 1 less friend in the end.

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@moondrake: Trade dress is specifically about visual appearance and packaging where one is trying to confuse or fool the consumer into thinking the brand created by one is really for them. It's a form of IP theft. Two Pesos v. Taco Cabana is also different in that one is well established and does have a brand while the other is trying to steal/infringe on that brand. This person's idea has no brand and like I wrote, the brand name, logo, etc is crass so it's unlikely anyone would try to replicate it.

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Combination of what many said.
1. The main thing that @shrdlu said. Get a good lawyer. So even if you do talk to them. via @dows suggestion. YOUR ideas will be protected if they turn you down, but then turn around and steal your stuff. Or if you want to just offer to buy them out per @davidj . Cover your bases up front. You know them, we don't. Approach them accordingly. Maybe don't show your full hand right away. Do some soul searching on the value of the friendship(s)
But talk to a lawyer first before any of the above. ( and not just any lawyer, someone that specializes in businesses and contracts ) That way you will know what rights you have on the various scenarios. Better to make a decision with that information.
Good luck !

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If the person is really a friend, tell him/her a few of your ideas.
1) If s/he is receptive...:
A) ...and you have the time and effort, suggest that you partner to sell the product together, after which you use all your ideas to promote and sell your product.
B) ...and you don't have the time and effort, give your friend all your ideas so that your friend can succeed.

2) If s/he tells you to "F" off...:
A) ...and you want to remain friends, wish him/her all the best and drop it to preserve your friendship.
B) ...and you don't care to remain friends, go to war. Do whatever you can to build that better mouse trap. Just be sure not to use any of his/her intellectual property.

In scenarios 1A and 2B, be sure to get a lawyer before proceeding.

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@mml666: They are not a friend. They are a friend of a friend.

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@first2summit: Yes, you posted about the business not being up and running when I was in the process of writing my post. From your original question I had thought the business had already been started.

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@first2summit: Ok, lets change it:
2) If s/he tells you to "F" off, talk to your friend to see if your friend has any objections to you competing.
a) No objection - go to war
b) Objection and you want to remain friends - drop it
c) Objection and you don't care to remain friends - say goodbye and go to war.

However, keep in mind that just because you think you can do it better, it does not guarantee your success and/or his/her failure.

And don't forget the lawyer...

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@first2summit: Ever sold a domain name? Ideas get bought and sold all the time. But in this case, the OP said it was a business with a product and a market, so it would have some valuation based on that.

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@caffeine_dude: Ha! It looks like they can take Woot out of this category:

"SINGLE Deal a Day Websites [28]:

These Daily Deal websites have a single deal each day."