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How To Vet Clever Ideas Without Giving Them Away?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the don't-clever-ideas-want-to-be-free? dept.

Patents 539

Rival writes "As an inquisitive and creative geek, I am constantly coming up with 'clever' ideas. Most often I discover fundamental or practical flaws lurking in the details, which I'm fine with. As Edison said, 'I haven't failed; I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.' Other times, I discover that someone else has beaten me to the idea. I'm fine with that, too. At least I know that I've come up with a great idea, even if I'm not the first. There are times, however, when I can find no flaws with an idea and nobody else seems to have thought of it. I'm not conceited enough to think my idea is genius; I just assume that I'm not knowledgeable enough to see what I'm missing. In these times, I often want to ask a subject matter expert for their thoughts. On the admittedly long chance that an idea is genius, however, what is the best way to ask for another's insights while mitigating the risk of them stealing or sharing the idea? Asking a stranger to sign a contract before discussing an idea seems like a good way to get a door closed on my face. What are your experiences and suggestions?"

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Ideas want to be public (5, Interesting)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800869)

Ideas are a dime a dozen. What matters is confronting your idea with real world feedback and you'll be astonished by the results (read this for more on keeping your idea confidential: the great startup idea that I can't reveal yet [fairsoftware.net] ).

Guy Kawasaki gave one really good suggestion to test your idea: convince a woman. It sounds stupid and insulting, but what he really means is that it's too easy for geeks and tech lovers to fall in love with a geeky idea. Presumably, women are more grounded and will tell you why your idea is not practical.

Finally, regarding confidentiality: don't worry about it so much

Re:Ideas want to be public (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28800915)

Perhaps your ideas are dime a dozen. Not his.

Re:Ideas want to be public (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801159)

Perhaps your ideas are dime a dozen. Not his.

His ideas ARE a dime a dozen. So were Einstein's, Hawking's, and Newton's.

Re:Ideas want to be public (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801175)

It's a general rule. Ideas are commonplace. Whatever idea you come up with it's extremely unlikely you're the first to think of it.

It's good execution that makes for success.

Re:Ideas want to be public (5, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800951)

Guy Kawasaki gave one really good suggestion to test your idea: convince a woman

Dude, the guy is asking his question on Slashdot. The odds that he knows any women or has the guts to talk to them if he does are slim to none.

Now if you'll excuse me, the microwave upstairs just beeped. My hotpockets are done!

Re:Ideas want to be public (5, Funny)

cbeley (1071560) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801147)

Guy Kawasaki gave one really good suggestion to test your idea: convince a woman

Dude, the guy is asking his question on Slashdot. The odds that he knows any women or has the guts to talk to them if he does are slim to none.

Now if you'll excuse me, the microwave upstairs just beeped. My hotpockets are done!

Why does it worry me that that was modded +5 INFORMATIVE!

>_>

Re:Ideas want to be public (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801269)

Dude, the guy is asking his question on Slashdot. The odds that he knows any women or has the guts to talk to them if he does are slim to none. ... which further underscores the original point - to be successful, you have to make your idea relatively popular in the target audience. If you are so socially backward that you can't confidently discuss your idea with a chix, you really should just go take a Dale Carnegie communication course or something.

In any event, people who are convinced that they have to worry about their ideas being stolen off the street have an unrealistic expectation of the value of the idea.

You're not a /. geek! (2, Funny)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801299)

Dude, you're not a Slashdot geek... your microwave isn't in the same room as your PC. You mean you have to walk to another room on another floor in order to get yer grub?! Who can live with that sorta distraction?

Re:Ideas want to be public (3, Funny)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801369)

Your mom doesn't bring them to you?

Re:Ideas want to be public (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800953)

"But honey, it's a quad core! Think of it as an extra pair of shoes!"

YOUR IDEAS ARE STUPID AND YOU'RE AN IDIOT (1)

Subject Line Troll (581198) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800983)


 

Re:Ideas want to be public (5, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801075)

Exactly. One of the worst traps you can fall into in professional life is to believe ideas have worth. Sorry, but they are almost worthless. Even a good implementation is borderline worthless without the proper business processes including marketing and advertising.

I've never heard of a uber-secretive guy making it big in the business world. The "I have a genius idea, but dont trust anyone" is the sign of an amateur and/or someone too lazy to learn to code. There's no shortage of people out there who just know their iphone idea will make them a millionare. Its a delusional and self-serving belief.

The guy who does make it is the one who learns how to implement it or at least is trusting enough to hire a real pro without a draconian NDA to do it. This person also understands the business processes needed to promote and support the product.

Re:Ideas want to be public (1)

slazzy (864185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801307)

I've never heard of a uber-secretive guy making it big in the business world

It's happened - you just don't hear about it :)

Re:Ideas want to be public (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801337)

Lots of "uber-secretive" people and companies have made it in the business world. Microsoft, Apple, Edison... not even the tip of the iceberg.

As for ideas being nearly worthless, you are just plain wrong. Ask the guy who invented the burp-tank for radiators in automobiles. He knew it was a good idea. He applied for a patent. And he took it to EVERY major automobile supplier in the world, trying to sell it. Every one of them turned him down.

And, the very next model year, every one of those manufacturers were putting burp tanks on their radiators.

And by the year after that, the inventor had sued 7 companies, won 7 times (for an average of $1,000,000 in each case), and had 12 more suits pending...

All over one idea. Oh, ideas can be very powerful indeed. His problem was in being in a hurry, going to all those companies, and thereby giving his idea away. Sure, he won many millions in lawsuits, but lots of that went to his attorney(s). He could have made even more in the long run simply by being patient and -- eventually -- making sales.

Re:Ideas want to be public (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801099)

Re:Ideas want to be public (1)

eiderman (947025) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801131)

You also need to build excitement and momentum for the idea. Most million dollar ideas aren't doable by 1 man in a reasonable amount of time. You need to inspire others so that you can get people who want to work with you to and others that have money to invest. Not many people want to steal an idea and run, most want to be part of it and the best way to succeed is as a team.

That said, there are certainly some jerks who would want to steal the idea and you probably don't want be associating with those people anyways.

Convince a Stoner (5, Funny)

tobiah (308208) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801137)

If he understands and digs it, it's been done or is fatally flawed. If he stares at you blankly, maybe you're on to something. Best part: he's guaranteed not to accurately disclose or competently act on your idea!

Re:Convince a Stoner (1)

theuhstuf (1153693) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801189)

Sure, because all stoners forget everything, if this were the case no one would ever be able to find weed because we'd all forget who to call, what it costs, what it should smell and taste like...paradox? no you are just an asshole. PROUD STONER

Re:Convince a Stoner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801225)

Sure, because all stoners forget everything, if this were the case no one would ever be able to find weed because we'd all forget who to call, what it costs, what it should smell and taste like...paradox? no you are just an asshole. PROUD STONER

Wow, epic fail. Even if THC had an instant effect, people would still remember where they got it, how much it costs, and the smell. Unless, of course, that you're implying that THC works backwards through time, possibly erasing memories prior to smoking. As it stands, pretty much everything you've mentioned can very well be experienced prior to ingestion.

Re:Convince a Stoner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801261)

Stoner, if you couldn't tell --> http://vimeo.com/4044436

Don't worry about it (4, Interesting)

neapolitan (1100101) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801163)

Exactly. People overvalue the concept of "idea" and undervalue the concept of aggressive business positioning, development, marketing, capital, and a lot of, well, work.

I was at Harvard when facebook was "born." I was persistently skeptical about the whole thing, as the concept was not new *at all*, and friendster was reigning supreme, which I kind of thought was a silly fad. I was subsequently astounded over the years how facebook has taken off. (I am still astounded.) But, had the founders listened to me, or saw that their idea was "taken," it would have gone nowhere.

That being said, I wouldn't give a highly established potential competitor research data that you have gotten to get your idea off the ground. Despite my words, I also hold a few patents, but these are mostly defensive positioning and required by my corporation.

Nebulous "ideas" have an insignificant chance of being "thought of" already. What you need to do is get honest feedback about the barriers to implementation, then just go and do it!

Re:Ideas want to be public (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801195)

I beg to differ. Next month a brain child of mine will receive over a million in funding for advertising and go live.

it's been almost a year since I've had any control over the project and i signed the NDA. Unfortunately for me no one was there to warn me about signing away my rights, i was under the impression i was protecting them. A good friend of mine who was the driving force behind me was convinced by a third party to cut me from my own project. Sadly age played a significant role, amongst other things.

I'm actually hoping they are successful in their venture. It gives me inspiration on my next project and I learned a valuable lesson: trust no one :)

Help us out... (5, Funny)

JDSalinger (911918) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800877)

What ideas did you have? This will help us make suggestions.

Re:Help us out... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801019)

His idea is a stainless steel butt plug providing intermittent electrical pulses from 2 AA batteries.

Re:Help us out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801323)

His idea is a stainless steel butt plug providing intermittent electrical pulses from 2 AA batteries.

Is that a metaphor?

Re:Help us out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801385)

But I already bought 3 of those from a store last night! :(

Just ask Rands (2, Interesting)

cnvandev (1538055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800901)

Give them a FriendDA [friendda.org] ?

NDA (4, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800917)

You're looking for a non-disclosure agreement [wikipedia.org] . No method other than a contract has force of law behind it. That is, if you're using an untrusted stranger in the first place. There's something to be said for asking friends, even if they may not be giving you a completely unbiased opinion.

In other news, you do come across as kinda arrogant here ("as an inquitive and creative geek..."). Everyone has ideas. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

Re:NDA (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801093)

Even an NDA can be misused. A good coder or whoever he is trying to hire may not want to sign an NDA that ties his hands. Joe Wannabe Entrepreneur's NDA that includes "Not to work on any social networking apps for at least 18 months" will be laughed out of the room. He'll end up with a lousy coder or student and have a lackluster product that will fail in the market.

Re:NDA (1)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801141)

Yes, because in this vast world there is only the singular good coder and everyone else is lousy or a student.

Re:NDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801373)

Yeah, and all you lousy student coders need to get off my lawn!

Act On It (3, Insightful)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800919)

Got an idea for a better mousetrap? Build it and see if it really is better. Talk is cheap and action speaks louder than words.

Just Discuss It Already (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800927)

I'm not conceited enough to think my idea is genius; I just assume that I'm not knowledgeable enough to see what I'm missing.

Dude, I would be ecstatic if people thought my ideas were worthy of discussion. A lot time my personal friends just respond with "meh" or less. Tells me I'd be torn apart to put it out online and never get anywhere coding it.

You're going to fail a lot of times. Just fail early and fail often. Don't worry about someone stealing your ideas because your ideas are really not that great. If you admit that now, everything gets a lot easier.

Funny that I actually gave up on an idea that revolved around this very concept for the exact same reason you are describing. When the Android SDK came out, I fired up the example and set to create a project that would allow the free exchange of ideas. Real original, right? It was simple, you authored ideas in 1,000 characters or less and saved them on your phone in your portfolio. Meanwhile they went back to the server and were databased, searchable and fed back out to other users. Users could view/tag/rate/add comments to/social network around ideas that others had made and add them to their collection of ideas. The best ideas would be rolled out to a web page or wiki with the original authors and contributing authors given credit. The idea being that you could read ideas on anything on your android phone or jot down ideas and store them server side when you're waiting for the bus. You could see all the ideas from a particular person, search based on tag, etc. Lots of things you could do with that.

So I pitched this idea to my friends as I started writing the server side service. Funny, they were afraid of the exact same thing you are. And yet another one of my projects barely in the larval stage died. Because of the fear of sharing ideas. You are not alone in your logic but you're not going to get very far if you don't shed that mentality. I guess your motivation may be money instead of just doing something interesting. If that's the case, I hope you are one smooth talking salesman because venture capital is harder to get these days.

Ask Slashdotters (0, Redundant)

notaspy (457709) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800931)

They will find flaws

Re:Ask Slashdotters (5, Funny)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800963)

They will find flaws

Your sentence is missing a period at the end. Also, you should be clearer about who "They" are although it can be assumed that it is "Slashdotters" as mentioned in the subject of your reply.
Also, your Slashdot ID (457709) is too high.

Re:Ask Slashdotters (2, Funny)

EightBits (61345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801145)

They will find flaws

Your sentence is missing a period at the end.

I have no moderator points right now, but those who do need to moderate the parent, "Funny as Hell."
 

And while I know I will ultimately lose this battle, thomasdz, YOUR Slashdot ID (178114) is too high. :)

Re:Ask Slashdotters (1)

MathiasRav (1210872) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801251)

And while I know I will ultimately lose this battle, thomasdz, YOUR Slashdot ID (178114) is too high. :)

Look who's complaining about high IDs, yeah it's the guy with the high karma! Too high, I might even add!

lol! (1)

tobiah (308208) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801389)

a phrase I do not invoke lightly
especially the exclamation
Now please excuse me while explain the cause of my amusement to my coworkers...

Just tell them, it's not going to be special (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800959)

I see this a lot in the game industry, everyone always has this idea which they can't tell you in case someone else steals it. "The million dollar idea!" they say.

Only problem with this thinking is that anything you've thought up has been done before and telling people that you have an idea but done want to tell anyone is just annoying the people around you, if not slightly insulting that you can't trust them.

Re:Just tell them, it's not going to be special (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801165)

"The million dollar idea!"

Well, if it's a simple game, that's probably enough to cover development costs although you'll not have a lot left for marketing.

Prepare to be bought out... (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800969)

Or maybe you won't even get that, any worthwhile invention or process will be reverse-engineered by $Monolith_Company leaving you with a worthless patent. This isn't the early 19th century where you can mix up WhiteOut in your kitchen or come up with a rotary engine design. Any idea that's been created has been done so by engineers at $Monolith_Company making them rich, and you get a minor foot-note on your employee data-sheet and an acrylic achievement award on your desk.

[X] Sorry, I just don't think your idea will work

=Smidge=

Re:Prepare to be bought out... (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801039)

What's wrong with being bought out? If your idea is good and your business plan is decent then odds are that you can set it up in such a way that you can retire with the proceeds from being bought out.

Friends of mine got into the ISP business back in the day before it was even on the radar of $Monolith_Company. $Monolith_Company eventually bought them out. They've since spent their days traveling the world and working because they want to, not because they need to. What's wrong with this outcome?

Can you... (0, Redundant)

SlashDev (627697) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800973)

...provide and example?

guess what element of your idea is wrong first... (2, Interesting)

cfa22 (1594513) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800979)

and have the expert vet that element. You said yourself you think details are what you're missing; you have to hypothesize what details are missing or wrong and ask the expert to vet the hypothetical.

Talk to people you trust. (3, Insightful)

lordsid (629982) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800985)

Talk to people you trust. It's just that simple. Use your friends and family as a "soundboard" for your idea. They will see the holes you did not.

I wouldn't expect anyone to ever sign an NDA without knowing what they are getting into. I don't recall the article, but it basically said any company who signs an NDA like that is opening themselves to liability. That's why most will not even discuss ideas so that you cannot later take them to court for stealing your idea. If you want to discuss an idea and they already have 2 years of research into the exact same thing they are opening themselves to the liability of a lawsuit from you. The same apparently goes for music companies.

Once you are sure you have a good idea run with it and don't stop until its too late. Anything else and you are setting yourself up for failure.

Re:Talk to people you trust. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801377)

Friends and family are not much use for this. Either they are not in your target market (your mum doesn't need a new type of development tool), or they'll praise you because they think you're worth encouraging. Chances of you getting worthwhile feedback on an idea are slim.

You're right n the NDA thing. I wouldn't sign an NDA unless I already knew I had a contract with the person asking me to sign it. There's no chance of me signing an NDA to hear an idea.

Here's the thing, almost nobody makes money out of new ideas. People nearly always make money by executing an idea that is already out there. So there's really little value in trying to keep ideas secret. If inspiration has truly struck, it's all the details that will make you successful, not the core idea. No one can take your inspiration from you.

Use Powerpoint! (1, Funny)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800989)

That way you can sell people with clip art, flying headlines, and indecipherable diagrams that will cause people to want what you've got, but have no clue what it is and how it can help them!

Implement it. (1)

ddt (14627) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800997)

Just implement the idea and sell it. The market will give you a pretty good indication of the idea's worthiness.

Re:Implement it. (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801139)

And the patent infringement suit you receive is a surefire indication that you weren't the first one with that particular idea.

It's easy! (3, Insightful)

wahmuk (163299) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801003)

Most of your geekiest friends are intelligent people who can tear your idea apart and find the flaws, true enough. Just identify the geeks whose ideas you'll trust, but are far too unmotivated to take your idea and run with it. With a little research (you've been playing videogames with these guys at LAN parties for years, so you know who their friends are), you can make sure that you only show your idea to the most brilliant intellectually, but hopelessly inept socially. They'll never get it off the ground! And all for the price of a cup of coffee or a pizza! Win/win!

Re:It's easy! (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801199)

The downside is, us geeks are more impressed with specs than actual usefulness. Most of us wouldn't hesitate to buy a huge beige box for $500 with 6 gigs of DDR3 RAM and a Core i7 CPU with a great graphics card. On the other hand, if you were trying to sell that to an ordinary person they would complain about the aesthetics.

It would be nicer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801013)

if you actually just gave them away.

This Article Was Invented by Shampoo (2, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801023)

Well, whenever this awesome inventor named Shampoo [slashdot.org] throws me a big fat random juicy idea in any e-mail, he just ends it with this simple disclaimer:

Everything that I have invented is just in thought and is not produced for lack of money. These inventions are property of myself and are to be patented, copyrighted and trademarked under my name: Shampoo.

So just remind everyone constantly that your idea was invented by Rival and should be patented and trademarked and copyrighted under your name: Rival. It's that easy.

Don't be so damn precious about your ideas. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801025)

You come up with a lot of ideas. If someone steals one why let it worry you? Just come up with another idea. If you come up with so many, why do you think they're so valuable? Do you think you;re the only person with good ideas

Come up with the best idea for a business in the world. Ask a VC for funding. He'll laugh at you. Come up with the best idea for a novel ever. Ask a publisher for an advance or an agent to represent you. They'll ignore you. Nobody weants an idea. They want a fully fledged plan at the very least. Ideally they'll want a prototype.

So talk to people. Tell them your idea. If they're good they'll come up with 100 reasons why it won't work/. Deal with those reasons (either by proving they don't matter or working out how to solve them) and you;re on your way to a solution.

Reality Check (1)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801053)

You have a few routes, but, be prepared: 1) NDA - allows for consultation, etc, while disallowing your consultants to leak info -Flaws: could be expensive, as you'll likely need a lawer to draw it all out; The external parties must agree to it (obviously); Nothing's really there to stop people from violating it; If people break the NDA, what are the terms involving breach of contract? Lawsuit? Damages? 2) Build your genius invention, apply for patent protection, and enjoy 20 years of income for your device gradually erode as knockoffs and patent violators line up As with one of the above posters, build it, and let the world judge if it really is genius. I've made a few small-time inventions that have pulled in a few grand for me which I though were pretty clever, but to declare one's own self as "genius" is nothing short of arrogant, even if it's worded politely. Take it from a biomedical engineer who's done some pretty nifty independent projects, if you are posting to /. for advice on this, it's not genius, probably just high-risk/high-gain. Keep rolling those dice. In the meantime, if anyone wants to earn the title of "genius", try solving on of Hilbert's problems: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert's_problems [wikipedia.org]

A useful device (1)

caywen (942955) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801055)

Acquire a Men In Black mind eraser.

Write them on books (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801057)

in book margins, and add that the space is not enough for explain yourself fully. Worked for Fermat for 400 years.

Re:Write them on books (1)

MathiasRav (1210872) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801303)

Worked for Fermat for 400 years.

Ah, but he was pretty successful - I guess the moral is that if you tell the world that the margins are too small for your brilliant idea/plan/scheme, eventually someone will come up with a device ten times more complex and complicated to achieve the same thing as yours did.

Faux stupidity is the key (5, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801063)

What I do is I pitch a modified version of the idea where several key components are blatantly impossible, stupid, and possibly illegal. Then I pitch it to my friendly neighborhood geek and ask for his advice. They'll start ranting about how retarded my idea is, but I'll keep goading them and say "Okay, but imagine if we could fix that, what else do you think?" Knowing how geeks are amenable to abstract hypotheticals, and love to refute things in a thorough point-by-point fashion, they'll keep going on and on about the rest of the design too. I'll pretend to take notes the whole time, but in actuality I'm just seeing what they say about the real parts of the design. But when I depart, they're left with the overall impression that my idea was retarded and useless. I get my feedback, and they're none the wiser!

Anyway, that irrelevant nonsense aside, I'm busy working on a high performance V-8 hemi engine powered by babies. I'm having some troubles with the baby pump getting clogged by babies, and also my valve timing equations could use some tweaking. Any automotive engineers want to help me out with some constructive criticism and proprietary engine timings? Thanks!

Re:Faux stupidity is the key (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801117)

Liquidize the babies before pumping them. The V8 should have enough juice for the liquidiser. Should also make it run slightly quieter as long as you can make the liquidizer quieter than dozens of screaming babies.

Re:Faux stupidity is the key (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801207)

Should also make it run slightly quieter as long as you can make the liquidizer quieter than dozens of screaming babies.

I dunno, that would ruin the whole aesthetic I'm going for!

Re:Faux stupidity is the key (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801153)

Anyway, that irrelevant nonsense aside, I'm busy working on a high performance V-8 hemi engine powered by babies. I'm having some troubles with the baby pump getting clogged by babies, and also my valve timing equations could use some tweaking. Any automotive engineers want to help me out with some constructive criticism and proprietary engine timings? Thanks!

That's ridiculous. If you're creating it, it's not a hemi!

Re:Faux stupidity is the key (1)

vandelais (164490) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801197)

You could use synthetic babies as they have lower viscosity. Excuse me while I incorporate my synthetic baby startup and patent my business model. You can be employee #1, but I get to be employee #0. Anybody got the Pepsi CEO's phone number? I need to ask him if he's a virgin.

Re:Faux stupidity is the key (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801291)

Anyway, that irrelevant nonsense aside, I'm busy working on a high performance V-8 hemi engine powered by babies. I'm having some troubles with the baby pump getting clogged by babies ...

That's absurd, everyone knows that kittens have a higher Joule per liter ratio than babies. Do you know what the incubation time on a baby is? Nine months! Compare that to the three months tops on a kitten. And you only get one or two babies per baby producing mother. Kittens come in litters, litters equal more fuel. Burning babies in an engine!? What a preposterous idea!

You obviously haven't thought this out! Now if you can get your hands on some panda babies or endangered snow leopard, then you'd be in business!

Easy solution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801395)

The solution is obvious if you think about it, just increase the stiffness rate of the Piston Return Springs and your problems are solv-ed.

Of course, if you're running a high viscosity of Red & Green Running Light Oil, then you may have to consider installing a Rubber Lobed Camshaft to compensate.

Ideas aren't worth anything (4, Insightful)

basementman (1475159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801065)

Ideas are worth absolutely zilch. Any of the 6 billion people on earth can come up with your idea, and probably have. What is valuable is the execution of ideas.

So my advice is to pick one idea that you like and execute on it. You'll probably find out your idea wasn't that good after all and fail. Do this another 10 times or so and you'll finally get one idea that works. Stick with that one. Good luck.

I have a lot of questions... (1)

greymond (539980) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801069)

You say you come up with a lot of ideas, but what exactly are the ideas for?

For example, I'm a marketing person at my day job, I think of new ways for our office to promote our listings and so I send out these ideas, after some testing and Q&A with my graphics and research departments, in monthly installments to everyone. No harm in anyone taking my idea and claiming it as their own as it ultimately wouldn't matter because any successful idea potentially helps generate revenue for our office and thus keep us all employed. Of course if you are a paranoid person about corporate sabotage within your own office because Dude in Department A wants your job I guess that would be a different story, fortunately I'm not a paranoid person.

Now lets look outside the office and maybe you have creative ideas for a new business or a potential expansion of an existing business. Well with this you may want to keep a tighter lid on things because of the potential for competitors to use the idea first. That is one of the main reasons any good business person will have potential business plan reviewers or investment personal sign an NDA before reviewing any ideas on paper. This is common and anyone who isn't willing to sign one before potentially working with you isn't worth talking too as they will either screw you over or waste your time.

idea (1)

anglico (1232406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801077)

I always thought if I had a great idea to go ahead and write it down and take it to a notary. I BELIEVE this will prove you had it at a specific time and date without giving it away. I admit I am not trained in patent law it is just an idea though. Good luck!

Friends? (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801079)

You know those people you know you can trust...

When you say "Don't tell anyone about my great idea..." and they DON'T?

Yeah those are great people to talk to.

Re:Friends? (1)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801221)

Such individuals cease to exist once money enters the picture

Patent it. (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801081)

really, that's what patents are for, people who think their "linked list" idea is so genius nobody else thought about it and they need to protect it from the evil programmers (who make a living out of coming out with stuff like that every day) who want to steal it.

Re:Patent it. (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801151)

Uh patents cost a lot of money, if one has 10,000 ideas, it is impossible to patent them all.

Better to figure out which ones are rational and reasonable and could work in the real world and then patent those ideas that are doable. Only way to figure that out is to talk to someone else about it first. Coming up with ideas is called brainstorming and usually you need other people to add in their advise to see if it makes sense to them.

Lawyers and non-discloser agreements are usually used in these matters.

Re:Patent it. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801211)

You can't patent ideas. Only implementations.

Actually that doesn't seem to be truebut that's meant to be the principle.

Just put together a proposal and try to find $$$. (5, Interesting)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801101)

Don't worry about someone "stealing" your ideas. They don't make money by stealing ideas, they make money by funding other peoples' ideas. A lot of money. They don't need to steal anyone's ideas. If you keep it to yourself, they will be perfectly happy to fund two dozen other people who share their ideas, and to make a killing doing it.

Nobody is that interested in ideas; ideas don't make all that much money, believe it or not. Execution makes the money. If it's a good idea, lots of people will be happy to pay you a comparatively small amount (that well may seem huge to you) for the privilege of bringing it to market. They don't steal ideas; that would be killing off the golden goose. Venture capital and other similar interests don't want the ideas to stop coming to them, which is what would happen if they actually stole ideas.

Same thing with publishing and creative works. When I was younger and working on my first books, I was very wary of publishers. I hated to discuss a manuscript. Everything I sent was plastered with copyright notices and I would be sure to send myself a sealed certified copy first with a postmark date on it and then file it away in a safe deposit box. I was that sure that my prose was precious.

Now I have the better part of a dozen books on the market and I've been through the process a few times and I know much better. The publisher isn't interested in what's in your book. They're not impressed. They've seen tens of thousands of manuscripts. It's no crown jewel to them, no matter how good it is. They just want to know whether or not they can sell it. If they can, they're perfectly happy to pay you the royalty and rake in the dough.

Ideas people often make the mistake of thinking that we live in a world of ideas, in which ideas are precious and he who has them rules. In fact, we live in a world of employees and middlemen, most of whom are perfectly uninterested in ideas. With or without your idea, they'll continue on their merry way to be successful by paying for ideas from someone and turning them into products.

If you don't get over your fear, what will happen is that they'll continue to make money, continue to pay other people for their ideas, and you'll continue to have nothing but your great ideas that nobody knows about. Just put them out there. Talk about them as much as you can. That's the way that you broaden your network of contacts, potential funders, and potential buyers to the maximum extent possible.

Be vague.... very vague (2, Insightful)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801123)

For instance:

I have this awesome idea that does this thing with this do-hickey which lets everyone do stuff in original and clever ways. Like when you're doing that thing and it wont do this thing, you know? That's where this thing really shines!

Re:Be vague.... very vague (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801397)

Dear Sir Taco,

      We were so impressed with your patent description that our firm, Patent Trolls Inc, would like to offer you a position in our patent submission department.

Don't worry (5, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801135)

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken

Irony Can Be So Ironic (Massachusetts Edition)

File a provisional patent, in the USA. (3, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801143)

$100, no lawyer needed.

Get some close friends... (1)

LehiNephi (695428) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801155)

A friend of my brother's actually set up a private social network precisely for the purpose of batting around ideas. Each member contributes a number of ideas each month, and the members discuss it, pointing out flaws or opportunities. The ideas may be business ideas or invention ideas or ideas for writing a book.

One of the conditions of joining the club is that each member agree that any idea belongs with its originator, and that nobody commercialize anyone else's idea without prior permission. I don't know how well such an agreement would hold up in court, but it's a start.

Another approach is to bounce the idea off someone who might be in the target market, but who isn't an expert in your field. Several times, I've bounced a gadget idea off my brother, who will respond with a question like "but why would I use that instead of product x?"

don't worry too much about it... (1)

mayberry42 (1604077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801171)

As a fellow genius wannabe, I have - just like you - come up with several ideas. Some good, some bad, some great but had already been discovered (damn you, Einstein - just kidding ;-). But seriously, the way I approach any "good idea" is talk I to people that 1) I trust (family members, friends mostly) and 2) those with some experience in the field (although non-experts can give exciting and diverse points of view). Being unbiased helps. But on the other hand, as one poster mentioned, ideas are dime a dozen. The problem is (generally) not coming up with the idea per se, but putting it into practice. Having said that, there's a good chance that someone has already thought of it, but is too lazy/busy/worried about other things to pursue it. All in all, I wouldn't worry *too* much about it, just talk to people you know who are unbiased and get their feedback, then go from there.

Similar Situation (1)

Arkitus (1089627) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801173)

I've found myself in a similar situation for the past couple years. Like others have suggested, you just have to pick the one you like the most and try it out. Most people have no incentive to truly review your ideas. What I would definitely recommend, however, is to make sure that you write down all of these ideas somewhere. You never know what you will do with them in the future. And make no mistake: you *will* forget about the best ones by the time you're finished with the crappy one you are currently trying out!

If you really have a good idea? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801183)

You'll need to pay people to drag it away.

Finally... (1)

lattyware (934246) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801205)

I can find out if my tyres filled with a non-newtonian fluid and little ladders for moths to climb out of the bathtub with will be successful!

Contacts and Opportunities (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801231)

My experience has been that sharing the ideas creates contacts and opportunities which keep me employed at work I love and, last week, sent me all expenses paid to Hawaii where on the Big Island I did off-road driving like a maniac in a rented Jeep through lava deserts to beautiful deserted beaches.

You are, as you put it, "constantly coming up with clever ideas." Don't worry about it if someone swipes one of them. Sooner or later, entrepreneurial folks who you become acquainted with notice that you're an idea man and some will pay to have you put your creativity to work on their projects. And if you tend to have really good ideas, they'll pay you quite well.

And as the entrepreneurial guys decide to jump out and start the next company, your name is on the list they'll invite to join them.

Of course, if you keep the ideas to yourself, no one will ever notice how clever you really are and the opportunities that could have been yours will swing wide of you instead.

Good Ideas Don't Get Stolen (1)

Louis Savain (65843) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801239)

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."
Howard Aiken [wikipedia.org]

Aiken was right. I know. I've been traveling that lonely road [blogspot.com] for a long time. Good luck.

how to keep 'em from stealing (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801243)

On the admittedly long chance that an idea is genius, however, what is the best way to ask for another's insights while mitigating the risk of them stealing or sharing the idea?

Here's how: tell them your idea. Nobody is going to bother to "steal" your idea until you have already taken the risk and expense. People aren't cruising around looking for ideas to steal. Think about it: have you ever heard, even second-hand, of anyone doing that? Have you ever thought of doing that (forget whether or not you'd do it; have you ever even considered it)?

What good idea-stealers do, is watch to see who makes what work, and then imitate. You won't be imitated until after you succeed.

will smith did it (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801249)

If your invention is the "flashy thingy" from Men In Black, then I think you've solved your own problem.

I might have a solution for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801257)

I'll tell you how I think you could do it, if you'll just sign this contract first...

Trade Secrets, NDAs, and Confidentiality Agreement (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801285)

You either trust the person not to steal your idea, or you need to get him to sign documents. There is no other way. I am going to give a shameless plug to an article I wrote regarding trade secrets. [jakubowitzchuang.com]

The basic idea is that if you want to protect a trade secret, you should keep it secret. Even if you trust the guy giving you advice, a third party who misappropriates your trade secret may claim that it wasn't confidential if you let this other guy read it without a confidentiality agreement. In fact, that's probably the best way to get your advisor to sign: my explaining that it prevents third parties from claiming that the information is not confidential.

You could also file a provisional application, which is relatively cheap. After you file the provisional, you have up to a year to file a full-on patent application. However, it sounds like you are not ready for this expense yet. In that case, you should stick with a non-disclosure agreement or at least a confidentiality agreement that clarifies that the information is sensitive and confidential.

There aint no such thing as a free lunch (4, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801301)

If you want people to sign contracts, pay them.

If their advice isn't worth paying for, it's not really worth having anyway.

You know, I had an idea once (1)

maxrate (886773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801311)

It was a "Jump to Conclusions" mat. You see, it would be this mat that you would put on the floor... and it would have different CONCLUSIONS written on it that you could JUMP TO.

There is far more chance of gain in being open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28801315)

I think the possibility of having your idea stolen is sooo remote compared to the upsides. As you say, it's pretty likely it's been tried, or dismissed already. You could learn about why from these conversations. If you have an OK idea, you might gather key insights to further it. You might be talking to someone who instantly becomes your business partner. Or can introduce you to someone with more advice or time to work with you. Or funding.

Remember that an individual, and all the more so a large company, have something to lose from stealing your idea. Lawsuits, bad press, etc. Presumably you are talking, also, to someone you trust.

On the other hand, I've gone on to ignore plenty of people who approach me with a 'secret' idea and won't just describe it, or want an NDA, and in the end just have an idea that has already been implemented ages ago. You can harm yourself by being too secretive.

Don't worry... (1)

ivoras (455934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801331)

I read an very truthful-sounding (as well as depressingly down-to-earth) advice on new ideas that goes like this: "Don't worry if anyone will steal your ideas... if they're any good you'll have a hard time showing them down people's throats anyway."

The point is - ideas are a dime a dozen. If the idea needs some help to succeed - money, resources, people, etc. - which you don't have, there is very slim chance that some friend you tell it to will have them. If, and this is the really long shot - you ever come to find sponsors for the idea that would invest in it in any way - you will correctly assume you need lawyers. Once you convince *your sponsors*, you'll sell the idea to them anyway, in exchange for more or less money, depending on how good your lawyers are.

There is no way to get useful feedback on an idea by sitting on it and not discussing it with anyone.

Re:Don't worry... (1)

MathiasRav (1210872) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801381)

I read an very truthful-sounding (as well as depressingly down-to-earth) advice on new ideas that goes like this: "Don't worry if anyone will steal your ideas... if they're any good you'll have a hard time showing them down people's throats anyway."

"Now, if you look up to the left, that's the road we could've taken to the lungs, but for this tour we'll descend down the esophagus and finally take a quick peek at the functions of the human stomach."

Oh, those ideas will haunt you for the rest of your life.

vet? (0, Offtopic)

theuhstuf (1153693) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801333)

so you have a sick animal do you?

I'm having the same problem. (1)

FrameRotBlues (1082971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801343)

It seems like you're concerned about whether or not your idea is justified or desired. Sometimes people don't know they need something until it's put in front of their face, and they instantly realize what they've been missing, and generally say the phrase, "I can't believe I've gone so long without this thing!" Those kind of ideas are what you'd need to discuss with the average person, if even a friend you can trust.

My problem isn't for want of justification of the idea, I just don't know how to go about properly building it. For instance, I know exactly how I'd like to create a unique DC motor, using IGBTs to fire individual coils and a timer for firing the IGBTs, but I don't know enough about the technical aspects: Can IGBTs handle huge inductors of 5-10 Henries? How are IGBTs wired? If I crank this capacitor value up, what happens? That sort of thing. I feel as if I'm going to need an expert to verify that it can be done, almost an electrical engineer.

If this is your problem, we're in the same boat.

It's the implementation, not the idea that matters (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801349)

Everybody has "bright" ideas. Most of them turn out to be dumb, impractical, already known or based on a knowledge gap or misapprehension.

The few useful and sound ideas that people have are probably re-invented a thousand times a year across the world. What makes the difference between "genius" and forgotten is whether the person who thinks of it (again) has the ability, resources and interest to follow through and make a success of it. It's not the idea itself, but how you progress it that is the difference between success and failure..

On that basis, so long as you don't disqualify your idea by disclosing it, if you wish to patent it, discuss it with anyone you like - it won't make any difference. A true expert will either have already thought of it and discounted it for th reasons they will tell you, has thought of it but has no interest in pursuing it or hasn't thought of it and therefore won't really be in a position to offer advice on whether it would or would not work[1]. If you think they'll steal "your" idea, you've been watching too many bad TV dramas.

One last thing - I hope you're expecting to pay the experts who's advice you are seeking. If so, just draw up a contract with an NDA in it - there, I bet you didn't think of that simple "genius" solution or yo wouldn't have had to ask the question, would you?

[1] generally if an "expert" hasn't thought of an idea themself, they will tell you that it won't work and give you various technical reasons why theu're right. However, since you had to go and ask them to start with, that shows that you do not have the knowledge to judge for yourself - so are unable to make an assessment of whether they're right or wrong. Experts are not that good at saying "yes, even though you are a layman, you've come up with an idea that none of the learned professionals in this field have ever considered before." It may be that they're so bad at saying this because it never actually happens.

NDA (0, Redundant)

makisupa001 (848921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801355)

Sign a non-disclosure agreement.

I wouldn't put too much emphasis on feedback ... (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801361)

I've had a couple of ideas in my life that were very similar to several very successful start-ups at a similar point in time as their founders did (as I imagine several hundred thousand people did) and I have learned that most of the world is quick to find fault with original ideas and offers little advice on how to overcome those problems.

My suggestion would be to refine your idea into the simplest form possible and create a prototype to show to people, and then use their feedback to improve your idea. Realistically, if your idea is too complicated to to create a prototype it is probably too complicated for you to be successful with anyways ...

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