If I pitch an idea to a company, how do I ensure that I will get credit/compensation for that idea?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If I pitch an idea to a company, how do I ensure that I will get credit/compensation for that idea?

Worried about the company saying no to working with me, but pursuing the idea
on their own without my knowledge or my help. I would like to get
credit/compensation because I know it is something this company would be
interested in and would like to pursue.

Asked on July 6, 2016 under Business Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The only way to protect yourself is to have the company execute a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement *before* you disclose anything to them, which agreement recites that you are disclosing the idea solely to evaluate a working relationship with them and that they may not use the idea for their own benefit, or disclose it to others, without your permission (which you can charge for). If they do execute such an agreement, you can enforce it against them in court, at need. Note, however, that such an agreement will not protect you if the idea is one they can prove they already know of or is generally in the public--for example, I can pitch an idea for an app that will connect people needing rides with drivers, but after Uber, Lyft, etc. I can't protect that idea, as it's already a commonly known idea.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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