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How much is an Idea worth?

2 like 0 dislike
Let me start out with some initial disclosure.  I'm fully on board with Mike Masnick that execution is the key and an idea has little value.  But does it have no value?  Is the heart of much intellectual property law protecting things of little or no value?  How does someone monetize a novel idea and set a real economic value to it?  I am very admittedly lazy, I have good ideas (or so I am told) but have no ambition to execute upon them.  Does my intellectual output have any value?

To help frame the conversation, I am making the following idea public, no intention of patent, or any other such nonsense.

I feel there is a great deal of money to be made by a new metaphor in local entertainment.  Current web sites all do the same boring search, if you know what you are looking for you may be able to find it.  However, if you build on the idea of a College Bulletin Board, there are brand new possibilities.  A communal wall of cultural events (i.e. Bars and  Bands) where advertisers compete for your attention with compelling artwork / playbills....

I've never seen anything like it, but it is an obvious metaphor to me to create interesting communities.

Now someone may be doing this and not executing on the idea very well.  Or someone may read this and decide to create a site.

The question becomes, if someone reads this, creates a successful site, and makes a million dollars, am I owed anything?  Should inspiration be rewarded?  Is there a marketplace for lazy thinkers?  What is the ethics of building on an idea, does the innovator owe the originator anything?  Should society reward ideas even though the originator performs no executiion?
initiated Nov 9, 2011 in Business Models by Tom Fitzmaurice (340 points)   2 2 5
   

3 Responses

6 like 0 dislike
I've always found that the idea that finally gets implimented only vaguely resembles the idea that inspired the process. Ideas have no practical value. They change too quickly to spend any effort protecting them.

BTW, IP laws are not about protecting ideas; they're about creating monopolies. The protection part of them is a ruse to get lawmakers to pass them.
response added Nov 11, 2011 by shawnhcorey (620 points)   1 3 8
@shawnhcorey really good point.  one of the key things you learn as an entrepreneur is that final product never resembles the original idea.  not even close...  you learn so much during the implementation process...
4 like 0 dislike

Excellent question... I think, honestly, the answer is that you're not owed anything, but that doesn't mean you can't profit from it.  For example, if someone does decide to go after this idea, they may be so impressed with you're thinking on it that they'd like to hire you to consult/advize on the project.  But the burden does remain on you to figure out the right way to monetize the idea.  I just tend to think that, without a "contract" in place, the idea that anyone thinks they're "owed" something tends to run into problems.

response added Nov 11, 2011 by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   58 99 160
1 like 0 dislike
I'm with the concensus so far. I don't think you're owed anything unless you try and act on it. Take your example, there may be 50 people across your state alone having that idea right now. If I act on it, do I owe all of them or just you? In that respect I think the IP laws have generally got it right. It's the execution that grants you the monopoly. Whether the application of those laws is correct, or whether there should even be a monopoly granted are two separate questions. I guess another way to think of it would be, "what other walk of live would you expect to make any money whilst being lazy? And if not there, why here?"
response added Nov 17, 2011 by drew stephenson (3,370 points)   3 10 22

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