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Thread: looking for legal input

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    endparenthesis's Avatar
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    This isn't the forum for this sort of question, but I thought I would give it a shot anyway to see if anyone could direct me to the information I need.

    I'm in the IT world (web design/development, user interface, etc.) and I've been developing an idea for a website that I have no doubt would seriously take off, if done right. It's one of those ideas that's so obviously useful that people will wonder what took it so long to emerge, and I guarantee people out there are already thinking about it so I'm working against the clock.

    There is a website out there now that's somewhat similar to what I have in mind, but in an extremely rudimentary form. It's being done by a group of people as a whim and they're clearly missing the big picture (in fact they sabotage the potential of the idea in many ways). It's also pretty bad, from a design and usability standpoint, so unless they improve it in the future it won't take off.

    I feel like I have to carry out this idea (call it an epiphany) to avoid kicking myself for the rest of my life when I watch someone else make millions on their own execution of it. Whoever makes it happen won't be the people I've mentioned anyway, unless they "get it" and hire the right people to overhaul it.

    So I'm wondering if anyone sees any legal dangers here. My site will necessarily resemble this other person's site in many ways. Even though I had the idea independently and found their site in my subsequent research on it, they might be able to claim that I ripped them off.

    Do I need legal protection here? Or does this scenario just go by the law of the jungle, and whoever comes out on top gets the spoils?

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    Intellectual copyright will only cover the actual code and specific trademarks that they have on their site. Be sure to avoid using any copied snippets of code from their site, and attempt to make your layout and logos as different as possible. Remember that it is not illegal to copy a general idea like this; Otherwise Ford would be suing every car manufacturer on the planet =P. It's the specifics that you need to worry about.

    Also, just throwing it out there, but these people may very well 'get it' but just not want to make it into a successful business like that. For instance, I've been told a number of times that I easily could have setup the browser based game I wrote on a pay structure and made money on it, but instead I've struggled to make ends meet so that I could keep it free for players. Building the community and allowing people to enjoy my work was more important than making it into a money-machine. Having no specifics I could easily be wrong, but I just thought I'd put that out there.

    I've been doing web development for the better half of a decade now and have run a number of successful* online businesses. I'd be happy to make myself available via PM if you need help or advice.



    * depending on your definition

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    endparenthesis's Avatar
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    Thank you for the input. I don't want or need their code, nor could I access the bulk of it, so that's not a problem. If there's anything that would carry over it would be abstract techniques, and even then I had thought of it already.

    For all I know I'm completely safe, but I feel I should at least look into it. A lot of money could be on the line if I left myself vulnerable.

    As far as them getting it... they could easily go from thousands of users to millions of users if they just revised their philosophy a bit (resulting in a shift in what users are capable of doing). They might be intimidated by the scaling implicit in that shift (I am), who knows. And of course they have future versions being developed.

    Would you happen to know of any books or websites that address this specific concern?

    Also, do you have an LLC?

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    Doing it wrong until I do it right. xvart's Avatar
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    Wow. I am extremely curious as to what this development idea is. I'm assuming that you are not posting specifics about the development for obvious reasons, but I just wanted to let you know that this is very intriguing. I wouldn't want anyone to steal your idea, either. lol. I hope it all works out and will be interested in whatever does develop.

    I know what you are talking about when your speak of kicking yourself for the rest of your life; but, probably not to the degree you are speaking. I had this idea many many years ago about Crest and Scope joining forces to create a great toothpaste and then about five years later guess what was created? Not like I had the connections as a teenager to actually get my idea implemented by I still look back and joke about how I could've made some serious money on my idea. A completely impractical example, but I feel you none-the-less.

    xvart.
    "The tragedy of life is not that every man loses; but that he almost wins."

    "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

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    endparenthesis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (xvart @ Dec. 15 2006,9:36)]I know what you are talking about when your speak of kicking yourself for the rest of your life; but, probably not to the degree you are speaking. I had this idea many many years ago about Crest and Scope joining forces to create a great toothpaste and then about five years later guess what was created? Not like I had the connections as a teenager to actually get my idea implemented by I still look back and joke about how I could've made some serious money on my idea. A completely impractical example, but I feel you none-the-less.
    It's rough. In the internet world, there's rarely anything new under the sun. People can execute things so quickly that every semi-obvious idea already exists out there somewhere (usually multiple variants of it).

    That's the biggest frustration in my field I think. I have the technical ability to do so many things and get an immediate global audience for it (not to mention a lot of money). All I need is the idea. It's simultaneously the simplest and the hardest step in the process.

    Hell, with luck and timing you don't even need the technical ability. As a website MySpace is widely recognized to be a disaster, and there aren't many elements they came up with first. It was bought for over half a billion all the same.

    The million dollar website is another example. Piece of cake to execute. Virtually no talent required. Just an idea and some luck and you're set.

    So far I've been beaten to every concept I've ever come up with (sometimes by years ). With this one I at least might be the first person to do it in a way that really makes sense. I don't want to get into specifics, but sites like YouTube have a fundamental philosophical stance that allows them to go from obscurity to ubiquity very quickly. That stance is what the other guys are lacking in this endeavor of mine. What really concerns me is that someone else somewhere has figured it out and they're months or weeks away from launching. Or that what I come up with just won't have the necessary magic touch. We'll see.

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    Cardiac Nurse JB_OrchidGuy's Avatar
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    GO FOR IT!!! Work out the details after you have it well under way. That way your already ahead. Good luck and i look forward to seeing what you come up with.
    JB
    Friend me on facebook with JB_orchidguy@yahoo.com.
    Growlist Updated 05/08/13

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    It's been one of dem days BigCarnivourKid's Avatar
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    Document everything you can about it for your records. That could come in handy down the line sometime to prove that you did it first (or not).
    ---Steve Allinger---

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