Can I copyright or otherwise protect a business vision/strategy?


I am involved as a cofounder in a tech/software company. My associate is bringing initial funding and is conversant with finance/accounting, facilities/infrastructure and general organizational matters.

I will be bringing in the technology strategy and leadership, business strategy, initial business contracts as well as a stable of contacts with promise of business for the future.

I believe I have a well-worked out business vision and strategy, which, when executed, will work very well for us as the years pass.

Strategy or vision, while being essential for a startup, is rather abstract and invisible, except when executed properly to fetch revenues. However, I'd like to see if there is a way in which I can obtain and preserve credit for coming up with a well-documented business strategy which is a key component of my foundational input.

What instruments do I have for obtaining such protection? Copyright? Patent? What else?

Has anyone among you sought such protection for your business ideas before?

Strategy Patent Business Copyright

asked Mar 3 '11 at 12:41
Aaron Smothers
56 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

1 Answer


Short answer: no, but...

Long answer: Sorry, there really isn't a tool in IP law to protect "business ideas". Practically speaking, though, it sounds like what you're looking for is attribution: recognition as the person who developed the style of doing business. One solution may be authoring some articles in influential trade magazines or presenting a paper on it at a conference.

Besides that, protecting the idea as a trade secret may be the only other option for you.

Copyright protects only fixed expressions of an idea; not the idea itself.

Trademark protects designations of origin: company or product names, colors, etc.

Patent theoretically can protect "business methods", but this is a very expensive and specific area which is under constant change lately, and thus uncertain.

answered Mar 3 '11 at 18:54
212 points
  • Got it, thanks! What I am looking for is recognition and attribution to me (from my co-founder) of my foundational efforts, which to me ought to translate into a foundational stake in the company, at the very least. – Aaron Smothers 13 years ago
  • You're using weird words. Foundational stake? Make sure you have some ownership of the company (equity (also known as stock)), that's all you need to be rewarded for all your terrific leadership and vision and ideas, if they really work out. – Joel Spolsky 13 years ago
  • I suppose you could tell this is my first genuine attempt at entrepreneurship. What I meant was founder's equity. – Aaron Smothers 13 years ago
  • +1 for an interesting take on how to establish "ownership" of an idea. – Bogeymin 13 years ago

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