My answer to How did startup website ideas (Twitter, etc) protect their ideas from being stolen in the early stages…
Answer by Raad Ahmed:
Most startups will protect their valuable ideas through non-disclosure agreements or through intellectual property. Intellectual property includes patents and trade secrets and each type has its own advantages and purposes.
A(NDA) is probably the most common and it is exactly what it sounds like, an agreement between two parties to not disclose certain information. A startup company will usually make their employees sign an NDA as well as any outsider that comes in to do work like a lawyer or developer. These agreements are effective because a startup will need to bring on more people and in turn the startup needs to expose its secret to these people so that they can do their job. An NDA allows a startup to expose its secret to others without fear that the secret will then be further disclosed to other people by the outsider.
Intellectual property rights also offer valuable protection to a startup. Trade secret protection will protect any secret that has value to the startup as long as that startup actively protects the secret on their own. The difference between trade secret protection and an NDA is that while an NDA protects the unwanted disclosure of an initially voluntarily disclosed secret, trade secret protection basically protects the unlawful theft of a startup’s secret.
A patent generally provides protection for an invention. The holder of a patent can exclude anyone else from using his invention without authorization. It is not likely that a website would have a patent because a website is not an invention and there is probably not an underlying invention that needs to be protected.
A valuable secret is worth protecting and for that reason a startup will generally work closely with an attorney to determine the best option to protect it. If you are looking for an attorney to help you protect your startup’s secrets or if you just have more questions and want to chat, I invite you to check outwhere we will match you with an experienced business attorney for a free consultation.