The IP Agreement is Totally Ineffective Anyway
August 28, 2012 1 Comment
Looking at my inbox, I have links to the public customer validation/interview questions for four groups, the slide decks for six groups, and detailed code and designs for another group. Even better, I have links to the complete Github repositories* of two teams. And I didn’t ask for and don’t want any of it.
(At the time of this writing, I have confirmed that each one is findable via finding team members usernames on various services like Slideshare, YouTube, etc. Some even linked to them via their Facebook profiles.)
If I was still on the 3DS mailing list or in the Facebook group – which I removed myself from months ago – I would probably have even more.
Now remember, according to 3DS, mentors don’t have to sign the IP agreement.
Looking at the mentors referenced in the various messages, I see the vast majority of them mentor other startups or for groups like 1 Semester Startup, Startup Weekend, and Lean Startup Machine.
Therefore, the people who are the most likely to make statements like “I’ve seen other groups try X” or “Have you considered Y?” are also the ones with the best information on 3DS ideas and groups. It’s up to their own honor to not stray too close to that information.
I know many of the mentors and do not believe they would consciously share confidential or proprietary information but it’s inevitable that they run into a similar idea. While I was at the event, I thought of a few Austin-local startups working on near-identical products. And since the event, I’ve met new groups working on similar concepts. When many of us face similar problems, we create similar solutions.
Am I putting myself at risk if I recommend something a 3DS group did? Do I have to prove I didn’t interact with that group?
And to make things really interesting..
- I know of a group from a 3DS event who refused to sign the agreement and attended anyway.
- I know of a group from a 3 Day Startup event who saw an idea from another group and decided to take it forward on their own.
If 3DS can’t police their own participants who should be under the IP agreement, what’s the point?
In fact, if they’re not doing anything to enforce their own rules and standards now.. do they really even apply?
* At the time of this writing, neither Github repository has been touched in 4 months so I doubt either group has applied to 3DS to get their IP back and take the idea forward.