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Consider Responding to Unsolicited Ideas And Reduce Risk

Posted By on February 26, 2016

As an owner of the company, there might be a time when unsolicited ideas for new products or service are received from external route. Whether you already know or not, this submission itself and the fact that you have received it could lead into significant risk, if your company has already been developing similar line of products/services or are planning to do so. Simply we didn’t know wouldn’t make an excuse and there would be a possible claim that the idea was stolen and thus theft of intellectual property.

Therefore, in order to minimize this risk and any further impact, unsolicited ideas should be carefully and professionally dealt with, by someone who is already familiar with proper handling.

Most of all, internal confidentiality should be strictly followed among employees, regardless of each division’s area. Simply circle the tips or information by sending an group e-mail with either summary or more details of submitted ideas would put the entire company in dangerous situation. By opening such an e-mail would be a good evidence enough to be questioned later by legal authorities. Therefore, company policy and employee handbook should contain this process of keeping information as confidential matter and take them seriously when handling such materials.

In addition to it, you would always need to respond to the sender of unsolicited idea and get a confirmation. Such a confirmation letter would contain following outlines:

– The clause telling the sender that such ideas or proposals have already been received by others and/or similar projects are already under consideration and development.
– It is also possible that what is contained in the sender’s submission might be already under planning or development, or has been previously considered.
– It is the company’s policy that we do not accept the unsolicited ideas, proposal, or materials, thus returning the material either unopened or opened however undamaged.
– There will be no confidential relationship or any type of obligation surrounding the situation, between the company and the sender.
– The company will not have any rights to exploit the ideas or proposals without entering into an official signed agreement, if both parties agree.
– The company will not have have any responsibility for loss of the materials that were submitted by the sender, or for keeping the information confidential in any circumstances even though sender claims that such materials were already submitted.

Once the return confirmation letter is sent to the sender, it is always a good idea to keep them recorded in case similar submission occurs in the future. Also always consult legal department’s advice to ensure there are no missing steps in the procedure and protect company from potential issues.