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Several months ago I did a little experiment in which I tried to "sell" a business idea in return for equity in what I hoped would be the resulting start-up. It was mostly just an experiment to see if I could sell an unpatented idea. You might be wondering how that turned out.

The whole thing started because I had an idea that I thought could fundamentally change the foundation of civilization, in a good way. And it wouldn't require any new technology; it's a straightforward combination of existing systems. I guessed it would cost $10 million to get the idea off the ground,

I previously reported that the first well-placed VC-type with whom I spoke liked the idea a lot. But he wanted an indefinite amount of time to do further research, so I moved to the next investor who had expressed interest in hearing the idea.

The second investor was highly qualified too, and if you follow the technology industry you would recognize the name. He loved the idea and pitched it to his board. They liked it too. We reached a tentative verbal agreement and the investor sent me contracts to review. But before we executed the contracts the investor called to say there was a change in priorities on their end, caused by external events, and they wouldn't be able to devote the necessary resources to the idea, so they offered to release it.

That's where it stands now. I might circle back to it at some point.

At the moment I'm busy trying to launch a different start-up that my partners and I have been working on for the past year. This one is designed to solve one of life's most common problems. Our goal is to save the world a million hours of wasted time. I'll tell you more in a few weeks.

If you want a sneak peak, we're looking for some volunteers to try the beta version. Just email me at dilbertcartoonist@gmail.com and I'll send you the URL in a week or so when we're ready. All I ask is that you give me your opinion on what you like or don't like about it. And if you find a bug, I'd like to know about that too.

 
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Mar 19, 2013
Phantom are you familiar with the business method patent, I think it would apply to Scott's described idea.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 19, 2013
The first idea was definitely an easy way to turn everyone into robots. The second idea must be the manual so noone complains about it = lots of convincing time saved!
 
 
Mar 19, 2013
Any guess about whether that changed priority is drafting a patent application for the very idea they said they're not now interested in?
And you've no way to claim prior art as you have none.

That's why they say a sucker's born every day.
 
 
Mar 18, 2013
But, then again, if the idea didn't have value, the experiment couldn't have been done. That Adams is a clever guy, after all.
 
 
Mar 18, 2013
Well, that's why I said, "If I didn't know you better."
 
 
Mar 18, 2013
[You know, if I didn't know you better, I'd think this was like one of those psychology experiments. You know, the ones where they make you think they're testing one thing where they're actually testing another? In your case, I wonder if this was an experiment just to find out if people in business would actually deal with you fairly without having any precise legal strictures that would force them to do so. ]

I dont think so. For this to make sense it would have to be an idea which Scott knew had some sort of value all by itself. Otherwise there would be no temptation for the businessmen to steal it (the richer you are the more valuable something would have to be to tempt you into stealing it) and the experiment would be worthless. And if the idea WAS worth something and Scott knew it then Scott would have been risking something valuable to perform this experiment.
 
 
Mar 18, 2013
I'm not sure how you can protect your idea once it's in the open. There are basically four types of intellectual property protection: patents, trademarks, copyright and trade secret protection.

I don't know which, if any, of these cover your idea. It's not something you could patent, because patents are for tangible items. It's not covered by copyright, because copyrights protect the expression of an idea but not the idea itself. Trademark? Obviously not.

So that leaves trade secret protection. That protection is state, rather than federal. I don't think it covers your idea because you have to be in a business and have competitors in order to have a trade secret.

So that leaves you with no protection. You didn't mention this, but did you have those VC's sign non-disclosure agreements? At least that would give you some legal basis to challenge anyone claiming your idea as their own.

You know, if I didn't know you better, I'd think this was like one of those psychology experiments. You know, the ones where they make you think they're testing one thing where they're actually testing another? In your case, I wonder if this was an experiment just to find out if people in business would actually deal with you fairly without having any precise legal strictures that would force them to do so.

It will be interesting to see how this all turns out.

 
 
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 18, 2013
[That's where it stands now. I might circle back to it at some point.]

At what point will you do what you said you were going to do at first if noone liked the idea, ie, tell us about it?
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 18, 2013
One million hours is 3.6 billion seconds. Seven billion people currently on the planet -> you'll save each of us about half a second. It will certainly take longer to explain to us how you will do that. Even more so if you want to charge us money to save that half second.
 
 
+17 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 18, 2013
cheap and easy. just block facebook on your PC. brazillion hours will be saved. instantly.
and you can have nice and fancy app for that too ;-)
 
 
 
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