Help me appraise the intellectual property values of acquaintances, if I do all the work bringing their ideas to market.
October 14, 2007 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Need help appraising the intellectual property values of acquaintances, if I do all the work bringing their ideas to market.

I seem to have interested a number of people/friends in entrepreneurial endeavors. People whose ideas I think have good value and high potential, but people who are utterly clueless about how to turn it into money, and who are completely unmotivated to make things happen. In other words, their ideas will stagnate, and eventually be exploited by someone else if not for my effort and time investment.

Since I find inherent value in their ideas, I am considering lending myself to a few of their projects; but if I decide to "partner" with them I will be doing nearly all the work, using my own ingenuity and creativity to turn the ideas into products, marketing them, etc.

In cases like these, where the final product would consist mostly of MY intellectual property and effort, which is however, completely built around the initial kernel of THEIR intellectual property, how should I determine the profit split?

It seems that people's opinions of what they deserve for their ideas varies, but most expect a high percentage of the profits, with minimal involvement, (one facet of The American Dream). I would like to be able to present clear guidelines that would explain to them what is fair.
posted by Redruin to Work & Money (5 answers total)
IMO (IANAL) you can walk away right now and implement any of those ideas, and you don't owe them a thing.

(I assume) you're not under NDA, they don't have patents either granted or pending, and they've freely discussed these ideas with you. The question isn't how much they deserve, it's why you'd be so foolish as to give up the sweat of your brow for no gain.

Put another way: Journalist writes an article ("10 ideas that should exist to make my life easier"). You pick up one of those ideas, run with it, build something neat that makes some cash... should the journalist own 25% of your business? Ideas are cheap.
posted by Leon at 12:52 PM on October 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

No NDA, no patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc. I figured they had no legal recourse against me if I were to use their ideas, but I want to be at least fair, considering some of these people are friends. I would rather compensate them in some way, seeing as they could use the money, and show them guidelines that prove/indicate that I am being more than fair, and not just scamming them and stealing their ideas for my profit.

I agree that ideas are cheap, but I have a feeling that it will be much harder to prove to someone after you make a heap off their idea, and would rather have their agreement in the beginning, and an unharmed friendship in the long term.
posted by Redruin at 1:24 PM on October 14, 2007

Either don't take the idea or don't be their friend. In a situation like this, you can't have both, since no matter what you do, one or both of you are going to feel ripped off (and probably both).
posted by lubujackson at 1:36 PM on October 14, 2007

Leon is right, basically, you owe them nothing unless they keep working with you fine tuning the idea , guiding the development process, then they are part of the team.

If you spend 100 hours developing and are spending money for hosting for example, and all they said was "It would be nifty if there was a site where I could compare sausage types and be linked to the various artisan sausage crafters", they get nothing.

Personal experience has taught me that if it is a FRIEND , you should get them involved as above, and get them to do something to earn share of the project commensurate with their contribution.

If it is an acquaintance, smile, nod, say "That's a nifty idea" and run with it if you are so inclined.
posted by petethered at 1:40 PM on October 14, 2007

ask them what they think is fair before starting the project. if you agree then you have a fair solution; if you don't, don't collaborate with that person.
posted by lgyre at 4:41 PM on October 15, 2007

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