Reposted from Aaron Birkby (19/03/2015):
This is a great question and we get it quite a lot. It demonstrates passion and personal commitment to innovation. While the topic will get discussed more fully at the Friday night introduction, here are some things to consider:
- Whoever pitches the idea needs to make their IP intentions clear to the team over the weekend. It is really up to the idea owner to negotiate and be transparent with their team members.
- Most ideas have already been thought of somewhere in the world and it is those entrepreneurs that can execute well with laser customer / patient focus that will succeed. The focus of the weekend is on executing and validating a business, not so much on the an invention or discovery specifically.
- There is of course a range of research knowledge and invention where inadvertent public disclosure can be a really big deal. One way participants can deal with this at a Weekend is to wrap that knowledge inside a “secret sauce” package. Just pitch that the package does something special without revealing any IP inside, and then focus the team on the weekend to use that package to build a business upon. Sometimes easier said than done
- There is also a possibility for you to bring along your own Non-disclosure Agreement and convince folk that want to join your idea to to signup (good luck with that!!). As organisers, we will not be able to be a party to those Agreements or represent them as being appropriate and you may scare off possible collaborators.
- If in the end, you are really worried, then just don’t pitch the idea. Bring along a different idea or join another team and learn through collaborating on their idea. You will learn heaps about the startup process either way that you can then apply to your original idea later.
As a final comment, there is no formal protection for IP by the organisers at the Weekend. It is a public event, the pitches will be made to a public audience and you will be working in an open space with collaborators and mentors. Keep any secret sauce up your sleeve.