Can I place a cease and desist on a competing company that has taken our business concept?

UPDATED: Feb 10, 2012

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Can I place a cease and desist on a competing company that has taken our business concept?

I would like to place a cease and desist on a company that I hired to design and development a web concept for me. They have yet to deliver the code; it’s well past due. In the meantime they have been working on a direct niche competition to my site. Stealing my business concept. How do I go about doing this?

Asked on February 10, 2012 under Business Law, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can try to seek an injunction on them, but it will be difficult unless you had them sign a non-competition agreement before disclosing the idea to them. In the absence of an agreement to not use or disclose your concept, the law tends to not protect business ideas. If there is such an agreement, however, it will be enforceable, as any contract is enforceable; you would bring a straightforward breach of contract case.

If they are using something proprietary of yours (customer information, business process information, vendor contacts, etc.), that would be different; you would have a better chance of prevailing, since the misappropriation of proprietary information can give rise to a cause of action. But if they are merely creating a business for the same niche you identified, it will be more difficult.

Given what is involved, it is well worth your while to discuss the situation in detail with an attorney with business litigation experience; bring with you all agreements, communications, and other correspondence for the lawyer's review.

At the same time, you should also discuss with the attorney suing them for their failure to honor their agreement vis-a-vis developing the web concept and delivering code; you may be able to get monetary compensation or take other action which will impact their ability to compete.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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