Securing your business idea

Restricting access to your idea

The best way to keep something confidential is not to disclose it in the first place. If you do need to share information you should use a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

An NDA is a legal contract. It sets out how you share information or ideas in confidence. Sometimes people call NDAs confidentiality agreements. You might need an NDA when you speak to potential partners like:

  • prototype or other developers
  • manufacturers
  • stockists
  • investors

You may also have to tell people about your idea or your business to get advice. This could be from:

  • accountants, financial advisers or banks
  • insurance brokers
  • business coaches
  • or a marketing agency

It is important that you don’t assume conversations with advisors are automatically confidential. Using an NDA keeps your invention or idea a secret when talking to others.

You can find further information and free NDA templates here Non-disclosure agreements – GOV.UK. Alternatively, your IP attorney or solicitor can advise on confidentiality and draw up an appropriate NDA for you to use.

Researching and testing your business idea

If your business is to start on firm foundations, it is important to research your market and competitors, and test your idea. You should be certain that: you have a strong business idea; you know your market and your competitors; and especially understand if your product or service is so similar to theirs that they may prevent you from producing or marketing it.

You can get valuable business intelligence around the idea and the potential market and competitors from the intellectual property (IP) databases.

The Business and IP Centre Network can provide FREE assisted searching of the trade mark, patents and registered design databases. Centres will also provide other information, guidance and support on IP and your business.

Understanding your important intellectual property assets

You should understand your intellectual property at a very early stage of starting your business.

The importance of IP assets to your business

A better understanding of your assets and how to protect and exploit them, can mean you draw the best value out of them and help your business to grow stronger.

Let successful business owners like Aardmann and FireAngel explain it to you in the video case study ‘IP for Business


It is important to understand the early risks around building your company brand and marketing without securing a trade mark, the outcome is you will most likely have to change your name and incur the cost and effort of changing your marketing collaterals.

A registered trade mark allows you to build and protect your brand with confidence.