Friday, November 20, 2009

How do you protect your ideas?

Recently Marvel announced a project that I thought looked a little familiar. It's a new character written by Daniel Way called Hitman Monkey who will be appearing in Deadpool, and then as a Marvel Digital Comic.

Hitman Monkey

Because I thought it seemed awful similar to something the Action Age guys had already published last year... Exterminape


Now when I first saw Hitman Monkey, I thought the two ideas were similar, but didn't say much about it because I sometimes see connections and patterns that other people don't see. (It's a blessing and a curse...)

But this week over at Bleeding Cool, Rich Johnston has a post about another person working on a project called King Monkey for Zuda. In the comments thread this is spun off in that post, another poster makes the same Exterminape/Hitman Monkey connection that I did. (Albeit, this poster doesn't exactly make a favorable comparison, but people on messageboards can be douchebags sometimes...)

Anyway, this brings me to the point of my post today.

Seeing the problem of people sort of stepping on each others ideas like this makes me wonder, exactly how do you protect your idea in this day and age?

In the old days, the best way to ensure a poor man's copyright was to send yourself a script in the mail and not open the letter - the idea being that a US Postmark would hold up in court as proof that you came up with an idea first. (With the given assumption that you will then use the concept or script in a working format and not just put it in your desk drawer. If you just send yourself ideas all day, but don't actually implement them, then the poor man's copyright is worthless.)

Now, I don't really think that Hitman Monkey is really going to tread the same ground as Exterminape, but what if it did? How would one take action if you felt your ideas were being usuped by a multi-billion dollar corporation? Does a blog timestamp stand up in court as proof of first concept? Maybe this whole idea of just throwing ideas onto the internet isn't the best course of action?

I have no clue, so please feel free to tell me what you think!

Have a great weekend,

- Jim


Caine said...


* to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work

Under the following conditions:


Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

Attribute this work:
What does "Attribute this work" mean?
The page you came from contained embedded licensing metadata, including how the creator wishes to be attributed for re-use. You can use the HTML here to cite the work. Doing so will also include metadata on your page so that others can find the original work as well.

Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

No Derivative Works — You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

Here is an article on how CC has all ready been held up in a court of law:

RKB said...

monkey's, gorilla's, and various other simian critters have a long history in comics. As far as protecting your ideas go, monkey/Ape character that uses a gun/is smart, nothing original about that -Monsieur Mallah comes to mind along with Gorilla Grodd. Your better off just trying to make your story stand out -by whatever means- from everything else that has gone before, or is out there now.

JimShelley said...

@Caine - Yeah, I think that Creative Commons license might be a good way to protect yourself now. I've actually seen it on a number of sites.

@RKB - yeah, I agree. A lot of times, it's not about the the originality of an idea that makes it work, but the way it was carried out. I've seen quite a few Zuda ideas that were very original, but didn't seem to get implemented in the right way. And on the flipside, I've seen ideas that were not original at all, but were carried out in a really nice fashion, so they ended up succeeding.


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