Disputes in startup


hi i had a friend of mine, we worked on a idea, now my friend is not interested to work with me and he is looking for someone else.However the idea was conceived by me. Can i shake off hands and go ahead on my own in launching the idea.Since iam very new any one from the community can help ....

Legal Intellectual Property

asked Dec 27 '10 at 21:41
108 points
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1 Answer


and welcome to this site! :-)

Generally speaking, there is no way to legally protect or claim exclusivity on a loose idea. What you should be thinking off is not the abstract idea, but the concrete contracts, work outputs etc:

  • Have you incorporated a company with your partner, and signed anything in this context?
  • Have you written any contracts with your partner that bind you?
  • Have you exchanged any emails with him that make promises? Even from your private mail accounts?
  • Have you made any verbal promises to your partner (verbal agreements are binding too, they're just harder to prove)?
  • Has your partner contributed any work results? (If he has made any source code, graphics, texts or anything like that, then by default he owns the copyright on these.)
If the answer is "No!" to all of the above, and everything else you can think of, then you're in the clear to just leave him.

If not, then you should seek an amicable agreement with him. A written agreement where he transfers all rights to work results and disavows all ownership and future profits. And it would be a very good idea to have a competent lawyer create this contract, as you can really get into trouble if you forget something here.

You should also consider the social/reputation aspects -- if you just dump your partner, then you may find that he talks badly about you, and that this gives issues in your social circle.

When negotiating the breakup with your partner, keep in mind that you can effectively threaten to go away, and re-do everything from the ground up. In other words, your partner should not expect to get large sums for the little work done so far, the price paid should reflect that the startup in its extreme early stage isn't worth much.

answered Dec 27 '10 at 22:36
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points

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