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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  What can you do if you KNOW your idea was stolen?

What can you do if you KNOW your idea was stolen?


If you are 100% certain that someone has stolen one of your ideas and used it as his/her own, is there any course of action to take or is that just the way the cookie crumbles?

intro What can you do if you KNOW your idea was stolen?Unfortunately, yeah, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. We’ve never heard of anyone successfully suing someone for lifting their idea. It’s just not possible to protect ideas (somebody raise your hand if you’ve heard differently). What we have observed over many years at this is amazing coincidences that have tempered our assumptions that certain ads are rip-offs. Yesterday for the umpteenth time we saw this happen: a team had a brilliant idea several weeks ago and were just about to present it to a client. The new Archive came in the mail and blammo—there was the idea. There is no way the team could have stolen that idea. They seem to go into the air—any seasoned team can tell you their personal version of that story. We heard a great story once, supposedly absolutely true (though we’re sure the version we’re about to share is somewhat mangled): on a remote Pacific island a test was conducted on monkeys native to the island. One monkey was taught a skill. This monkey taught other monkeys how to do the task (don’t remember what exactly that was). By the time the 100th monkey had learned the task, the researchers observed that on the next island over (not swimmable distance), the monkeys there started doing the new task ‘spontaneously’. This has since been called “the hundredth monkey” effect. We can believe it’s true. It’s just not possible that so many people have had the same idea at the same time because they all ripped off ideas. On the other hand, of course rip-offs do happen. We don’t know how people live with themselves. Where’s the joy in that? And aren’t they living in fear of being exposed? (You can follow a path many have followed and ‘out’ them in the media–Canada’s Marketing Magazine, for one, is only too happy to run side by side pictures of ads that are the same.) But you’d better feel 100% sure before you go that route. Meanwhile there’s that gray area that every CD has to wrestle with as they evaluate creative ideas put before them–how close is too close? It can be very hard to make that call. And many will tell you there’s nothing new under the sun, anyway. The moment you believe you have a completely original idea, brace yourself for disappointment. More than likely you’ll find its close relative in an awards annual near you.

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About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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