One of the more frequent questions we get from people here on chemists corner is about keeping your ideas safe and secret. People worry about their idea getting stolen. Here is an email exchange in which I explain my views on whether you can keep your cosmetic idea secret.
How do I protect my cosmetic idea?
Hello – I recently was introduced to your article ” Why You Do Not Need to patent cosmetic formula”. It was a very useful tool since my mentor and I were discussing the patent expenses to add inside the business plan. I would like to ask, since patent is not necessary as a cosmetic entrepreneur , would you recommend another form of safety and confidentiality between both the parties ?
Protecting cosmetic ideas
In the cosmetic industry lots of people like to sign NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). I personally don’t think they are worth much. If someone wants to steal your idea as far as cosmetics goes, it would be pretty easy to do whether you had an NDA or not.
To protect a cosmetic idea my strategy would be twofold.
1. Trust: Work only with people you trust. Fortunately, there are very few people in the world who want to steal your idea. The cosmetic contract manufacturers are in the business of selling production not in the business of selling cosmetics. It makes no economic sense for them to steal your idea.
2. Create something they can’t steal. Create a brand that no one can take. A cosmetic line is all about the brand. The technology has to be good but the marketing story and branding is much more important. These things you can get a trademark on so it is much more difficult to directly steal.
Technology in the cosmetic industry hasn’t really changed much in the last 30 years and the reality is that nearly every idea that can work has been tried. Success in cosmetics depends on marketing. Work on your story. That is something that is much more difficult to steal. And it’s also the most important that will determine whether your cosmetic line is successful or not.
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