eli5 How tech start up prevent their ideas stolen by big tech giant ?

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Patent protection would take years to be approved. Even if it is approved, how they can prevent their ideas being stolen during the application.

Also, ideas are often not worthy. Big tech can come up better solution better execution so how can one protect their ideas ?

For example, in the early stage of youtube, big tech have all the resources to recreate a similar platform but why didnt they do that ? If youtube was not just popular at that time, will their ideas silently stolen by big giant ?

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11 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

This can be achieved in many ways. One is just not sharing the technical aspects of the idea. Another is patents, which don’t take that long to obtain. Finally, with your example of YouTube, by the time it took off and became popular, stealing the idea would have been difficult. It would take a lot of effort to convince current users to switch to a new platform when they already have one that works so well, or convince new users to adopt a new untested system rather than use a tried and true platform. So rather than trying to steal the concept of YouTube, a big tech giant (Google) bought them out. This was a win for the startup since they made a ton of money.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Keeping information private and proprietary. Many companies have patent attorneys ready to file as soon as they believe a competitor has enough information to file their own patent.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They can’t really.

Take Uber, for example. It was the first ridesharing platform (I believe) and was very quickly copied by Lyft. Or DoorDash, Ubereats, whatever.

That being said, usually new tech ideas start off super small so nobody thinks of copying them. When they grow bigger, some copies/variations will come out, or the original company grows big enough so that it’s hard for any copies to compete.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Secrecy and patents and money and execution.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get a patent. The protection begins as soon as you properly document the invention. It might take years to get the patent and get an injunction and sue the thief, so you need enough money to survive until then.

If someone big decides to steal your invention, you need to out execute them. You have a head start, and you then need to innovate faster than they do. That’s not easy, and it takes money. In the end, your best move is sometimes to be acquired by the big guy.

It’s also helpful to stay somewhat under the radar until you have a working, marketable invention. If you can associate the invention with your brand it gives you an advantage against even a big competitor. Of course, it’s tricky to stay unknown and raise money at the same time.

Anonymous 0 Comments

>Even if it is approved, how they can prevent their ideas being stolen during the application.

Every country is “first to file” these days

If you apply for a patent for your sweet idea and after filing Google implements it and tries to get a patent you’ll still be awarded the rights because you filed your application first

Once you get the patent you can license it out to others for their use and sue them if they won’t pay reasonable fees.

There are a lot of things that are just kept as “trade secrets” which aren’t disclosed anywhere and are generally the secret sauce that differentiates one video sharing site from another or any two similar things

Trade secrets are really common in a lot of fields because patents are generally for a specific implementation not a broad idea

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s not really a patent problem; Patents are vehemently first to file.

That said, you’re not gonna have a monopoly on the concept, and companies will find a way to do something differentiated enough to work.

In this case, the answer is that you can’t stop em; which is why you either have to make a niche product that a big producer wrong care for, or continue to innovate so you can keep up

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are thousands of startups at any given time do the tech giants can’t copy them all. The obvious ones to copy are those that seem to be getting pretty big. However, there’s a problem. If the startup is getting big, that means they’re harder to copy – lots of people know of them and like them. This doesn’t stop the tech giants from trying but it’s hit or miss to prevail

Anonymous 0 Comments

Generally its about risk vs reward. For big companies, it isn’t worth chasing an idea until it is meaningfully large. $1m revenue is not meaningful to Google but would be for a small startup. By the time the market grows large enough, it can be too late for Big Co to catch up. Also, do not disregard inertia in large companies. There are entrenched ways of doing things and fiefdoms that prevents innovation. Particularly if a new business model upends existing way of working(think what ecommerce does to logistics). Also, more people doesn’t mean it is faster. Decision making is slow when there are multiple layers of bureaucracy. By the time an org grows big, usually there are processes that rewards not making mistakes, not taking risks on unproven ideas. That is why start ups do not usually regard Big Co as potential competitors.

Anonymous 0 Comments

This is a thoughtful question and actually one of the things that investors consider when they are evaluating a startup.

In the lingo of the startup world, it’s called a “moat” — like a body of water around a castle that makes it harder for attackers to approach.

As other commenters have noted, patents are one kind of moat. Software patents are also usually broad (see Amazon’s famous “one click” patent) so if you can get one you are protected, for a time.

But what really creates a moat is how you execute on the idea. A company that’s been built around an idea that’s filled with hungry people who are dedicated to it will often create a superior product to a bigger company who assigns a team of less hungry people who don’t really have any attachment to the idea. Good execution creates a good product which creates good adoption. In many cases, there’s a lock-in effect. Google could create a copy of Facebook no problem but they can’t make users switch to their copy. In the case of Facebook, its widespread adoption is a moat.

Being the first solder on the beach isn’t a great way to stay alive and many startups who were first in their category died out … but being the first company in a space to become so big that you can’t be unseated is. Investors will often see that as your ultimate moat and want to give you money (in exchange for an ownership interest) so you can spend it get big fast. If you can get a head start on bigger companies and you can get big quickly you can win.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The best approach is…. To don’t really prevent it.

It might seem contra-intuitive, but stealing an idea is quite unattractive for a big company. You have to invest huge amounts of money on something that might not work out. Buying a successful startup or collaborating is a way safer approach. You got money enough, and you get your moneys worth.

Each startup is believing their idea is THE BEST IDEA IN THE WORLD, most die, and it is way way way more likely to die if you are hiding what you are selling, instead of screaming it off the rooftops…

I once had a job interview with an ‘genious idea’-startup. At the end of the interview I had no clue what the job was about, so I declined. No way was I investing my time there, although I had all the right skills. I can imagine it will cost them lots of great candidates like myself. And investors. And opportunities to partner up.

Say you have an idea, and are able to keep it secret, and hire staff, and find investors, and create the product, and file the pattern, and the market takes off… All takes one single gap in the pattent to throw it all away… And patterns are notoriously leaky… You basically hand out the blueprint, and with small adjustments, its a new product…

If a big company steals your idea, you can always sue them, and man, then you’ve done amazing business wise. Well done you!