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Need advice on "protecting an idea"

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Coal48, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. Hi there,

    So here is the deal, I have come up with a really special bass design, something never done before, I really like my idea, it as pros and cons but I think its innovative.

    So I asked a Luther to build it, I already sent him the specs and rough sketches. I just realized that he just could flat out steal my idea, I feel pretty stupid to have just given him those info like that.

    Is it too late?
    How can I protect my concept from being stolen?

    Thanks for any help
  2. suraj


    Oct 1, 2008
    Mumbai, India
    If your idea is regarding the shape of the bass, then I'd say it doesn't make much sense to protect your idea. If it is something else, like a feature then you should talk to the luthier about it.
  3. Its a feature, I tough of asking the luthier to sign a ''non-disclosure agreement'' but I would need a lawyer to write it down.
  4. I'm no lawyer, but as I understand it your idea is copyrighted as soon as you manifest it. I would guess that as long as you dated evidence of your creation or if you have copies of dated correspondences (I believe emails are valid) with your luthier where you discuss or illustrate your idea then you have grounds and evidence for suit. Of course once it is out there in the world then the genie is out of the bottle and even an NDA or such isn't going to stop that if you are dealing with an unethical person. You can try to file a suit but that won't prevent the damage done.
  5. Oh, I only just now noticed that you are up in Quebec. My very limited understanding is most likely only relevant to US intellectual property laws.
  6. tastybasslines

    tastybasslines Banned

    May 9, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Cosmo is onto it. Mail the idea to yourself, certified mail, and bam, sealed, dated and notarized by the government.

    AKA - poor mans copyright.
  7. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Poor man's copyright is largely a myth. While it offers a very small amount of protection you can't sue without a registered copyright so its essentially useless for protecting your ideas.
  8. Cadfael


    Jan 4, 2013
    Germany, EU
    If you want a 100% correct way it costs money.

    I'm no lawyer, too!!!
    The cheapest way in Germany would be to go to a school because they have special stamps (to also sign school certificates). The correct date on it and the stamp onto the document. Experts can fing out that the stamp is correct and on the date ...

    Even designs can have a copyright.
    In Germany it is forbidden to hang out a tea kettle to show that you have a tea shop. A hughe brand has a tea kettle as its sign and they argued that people might be mistakened. Foolish - but that's law ...
  9. Thanks for the feedback everyone, much appreciated
  10. On my build Andy and I have kind of run into the same thing and our design has been largely popular with the people who look at it. My advice is to talk with your Luthier and work out an arrangement with him that suits you both. Perhaps if he would like to make the design "his" then perhaps he can trade his services for it. Something that you and he are happy with. For us, I am sure that as long as Andy continues to build basses for me that it will be done with a fair price for us both. ;)
  11. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Call a lawyer right away. Most will give you a 1/2 hour consult for free, and if the idea is really worth anything, it might be worth investing in an hour or two of their time to get clear on it. Speculating on talkbass is just going to get others interested in stealing your idea too.

    By the way, got a pic you can share? :D
  12. Toptube

    Toptube Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    First up, it seems like a few people here are assuming that the Luthier is automatically going to want to copy this idea and use it for his own gain.

    Secondly, just because he was commissioned to build one, does not mean he is entitled to a piece of the future pie.

    That said, the inventor does not always have the means to manufacture. If you like the guy, he could make a decent partner.

    If you intend to "protect" whatever part of the design, yes, definitely let him know. Its a courtesy, as sharing the design info with him makes him a potential unintentional violator of whatever protection you may eventually obtain. Many products are a result of prior inspiration or unconscious "theft" of existing ideas.

    In the U.S., the most basic form of "protection" is the "creative commons". There is a free version of the license, but it probably wouldn't hold up in a serious courtroom. There are paid versions that are much cheaper than other options and should hold up in most legal situations.

    But, you need to do your own research, to make sure there aren't already patents or licenses on similar products, that affect Canada or whatever country you might ever live in. Its great that you came up with something, but you may be surprised at how people can come up with the same or very similar ideas. and a lot of patents are probably more general than they should be. You will need to make sure your design is in fact different from anything similar and will need to get that difference approved, in order to obtain a unique patent or license.
  13. There is a part of me who wants to show my idea to everyone, its tempting me but I cant risk it again.

    Maybe some of you guys know the luthier I'm dealing with, is name is Kevin Burkett from "Electric Guitar Company", he makes all aluminum instruments.

    To tease you a bit more about my concept, here is a quote from his last email: This will be a ground up new thing, I'm very excited to do it for sure.

    When it will be protected, then I will show you my two prototypes.
  14. Give your idea to me and I'll protect it...
  15. NCD


    Mar 19, 2011
    The documentation that you gave the luthier and any receipt for a deposit you gave him should prove that it was your idea and that you hired him to build it. In this case, he's a contractor hired to build your prototype.

    If you gave him specs and have proof that you gave them to him, and paid him as a contractor, those should be things a lawyer can use to protect you.
  16. Actually, I decided to cancel the project, not because of fear of him stealing my idea but for other reasons.

    I sent him a message about me wanting to protect the idea and he as not replied yet. Other than that, no engagements where made, no money was spent.

    I don't think I have any proof for what I gave him, the drawing is not signed, I scanned it, then send it to him via email. The specs where written and sent on a virtual notepad, so no signature again.

    I have contacted a patent agent (layer referred me to one). So right now I am just waiting on the luthier and patent agent for responses.