Carolyn writes: About a year ago, I told my friend Pat about a business idea I had. I described it in detail and even shared the clever name I had come up with. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. She seemed intrigued at the time, but didn't really say much or exude any vibe that she thought I was onto something. Anyway, life got in the way. I have a full-time job and not a lot of free time, so I never did much of anything with the idea ... but I remained hopeful that I would one day.
I recently opened the local newspaper and saw an ad for "my company" -- the name and the business idea just staring me in the face. I called Pat and started raving about how I couldn't believe this could happen, and she calmly interrupted, "Carolyn, it's me. I started the business." She then starts telling me how she figured if I didn't do anything with it in a year, that I wasn't going to, and how she had been thinking about it for a year. She incorporated the name, bought the domain name, etc. I exclaimed, "It was my idea, my name, how could you do this?" She said once I shared it, it wasn't mine anymore. I am still stunned. What do you think?
Leslie Adler: Dear Carolyn: If The Friendship Court had the power, I would throw Pat in friendship jail and throw away the key. As I like to say, in my "lawyer language" ... "this sucks." Pat could have done this so many different ways, one of which would have been to ask you to collaborate. Instead, she committed a lie of omission by telling you nothing and stealing your idea.
I am a friendship cheerleader, in general, but I don't think this issue can be remedied. She didn't seem to show any remorse when you found out what happened, and someone who tells you that once you share an idea with your friend, it is no longer yours isn't likely to be offering to make you a partner in the venture now. Besides talking to this "judge," I think you should consult a lawyer.
What do you think? Has something like this ever happened to you?
|Leslie Adler mother, lawyer and creator of the Vuv Club shares her witty thoughts on the many roles women play in their everyday lives. Leslie also combines her legal skills and friendship experience as presiding judge of Momlogic's "The Friendship Court."|