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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.


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