We all get that idea bug, whether it be for a book, app, or website. We know that there’s something in our head we want to bring to life. Only one problem, the same problem everyone else has. We need help! Either we lack the tech skills or the writing skills to bring our idea to life. Which poses one problem, we have to find a freelancer, hire a freelancer, and trust a complete stranger with our baby that hasn’t been born yet. So how do we do it? With an agreement or contract that most inventors fail to get made or signed.
This article is about the top 4 people who hired freelance programmers, freelance writers, or the like only to get their ideas stolen from them and lose millions.
Here is the top 4 freelancers that were hired to help their inventors and stole their idea to make millions.
The Melania Trump Plagiarism Scandal
Though it may not have been the biggest scandal i
n terms of text, the Melania Trump plagiarism scandal certainly took place on the largest stage possible and, as a result, dominated plagiarism headlines this year.
The scandal began as Melania Trump, the now first lady-elect, took to the stage at the Republican National Convention to give a speech on her husband’s behalf. However, it was revealed that portions of the speech were eerily similar to the 2008 speech that Michelle Obama gave at the Democratic National Convention in support of her husband, now-President Obama.
The story dominated the headlines and the blame eventually fell on Melania Trump’s speechwriter, Meredith McIver, who came forward to apologize. Though McIver attempted to hand in her resignation, Trump refused it.
The story ended up dying out and not playing a major role in the election. Still, it was a reminder that plagiarism can come up in the most unlikely of places and, when it does, it’s never a welcome surprise. It’s also a teachable moment for educators.
Estimate of Inventors Loss: $250,000.00 Cost of the Contract they needed: $9.99
Contract they should have had to protect them: Writing and Translating Contract
Travis Kalanick is being sued by Kevin Halpern for stealing his idea for Uber. According to CBS News’ in 2006, the lawsuit says, Halpern began talking to Kalanick, a fellow entrepreneur; in San Francisco about his plans on a confidential basis because he believed Kalanick might be able to become an advisor or Celluride executive. "Before revealing Celluride's trade secrets, Halpern obtained Kalanick's promise that he would keep Halpern's concept and intellectual property (Celluride) confidential," the lawsuit alleges.
Overtime, Halpern continued to trust Kalanick and Trenchard, and shared more information about his business concept. In 2008 at a major technology conference in Hawaii called the Lobby, according to the suit, Kalanick, Trenchard, and Camp, along with First Round Capital, conspired to create the app without Halpern. Uber was ultimately founded in 2009.
Despite Halpern’s questionable claims against Uber, and his less-than-stellar litigious past, his claims raise questions of how would-be entrepreneurs can protect their ideas. Can business developers trust potential business partners with their ideas? At what point in the business development process should contracts be drafted to protect trade secrets? How can one prove as a matter of fact that someone stole their business idea? Unfortunately, it seems that entrepreneurs not only have to deal with the struggles of finding investors for their company, but also with the threat that these would-be investors may appropriate entrepreneurs’ business ideas as their own.
Estimate of Inventors Loss: $48,000,000,000.00 Cost of the Contract they needed: $11.99
Contract they should have had to protect them: Logo, Media, and Graphic Design Contract
Whitney Wolfe Herd a former employee from Tinder is being sued by her former employer and stealing their app idea. The parent company of Tinder is Match and Match claiming that she stolen some of Tinder’s ideas and concepts to create the concept for her new dating app Bubble which is a women focus dating app.
"This case is simply about forcing Bumble to stop competing with Match and Tinder using Match's own inventions, patented designs, trademarks, and trade secrets," it says.
The lawsuit is the first time that Match Group, which also owns dating sites Plenty of Fish and Match.com, has enforced the patents it secured on swiping and double opt-ins for dating matches on Tinder, according to a company spokesperson.
Estimate of Inventors Loss: $450,000,000.00 Cost of the Contract they needed: $19.99
Contract they should have had to protect them: Sales and Marketing Contract
In the fall of 2003, Harvard seniors Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra were on the lookout for a web developer who could bring to life an idea the three say Divya first had in 2002: a social network for Harvard students and alumni. The site was to be called HarvardConnections.com.
The three had been paying Victor Gao, another Harvard student, to do coding for the site, but at the beginning of the fall term Victor begged off the project. Victor suggested his own replacement: Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard sophomore from Dobbs Ferry, New York.
They first met in an early evening in late November in the dining hall of Harvard College's Kirkland House. Cameron, Tyler, and Divya brought up their idea for Harvard Connection, and described their plans to A) build the site for Harvard students only, by requiring new users to register with Harvard.edu email addresses, and B) expand Harvard Connection beyond Harvard to schools around the country. Mark reportedly showed enthusiastic interest in the project.
We know the rest of the story from here. Today Facebook is valued at over 75 billion dollars, while the Winklevoss twins settled for a measly 75 million dollars.
Estimate of Inventors Loss: $75,000,000,000.00 Cost of the Contract they needed: $99.99
Contract they should have had to protect them: Mobile App and Website Creation Contract
So if you want to hire a freelancer, hire a writer, hire a developer, or hire a graphic designer. Make sure you have a signed contract to protect your rights and idea. If you’re not a tech person then you’re going to need a freelance programmer. But learn a value lesson from the investors that lost their idea, money, and/or reputation. They all learned that spending a couple extra dollars and getting a contract could have prevented them from losing billions.