A concept is above all an idea. An idea that will be the basis of a product, a communication, or a whole commercial universe that, if innovative and well sold, can become a commercial success. However, ideas are not legally protectable.
Yet some concepts may have great value and may have required significant investment. The risk is that a competitor might copy the concept. So how can a concept be secured? Although an idea cannot be protected, there are means to secure it.
A concept can be, for example:
- A set of signs that distinguish a company, with specific know-how (knowledge, methods, tools), which finally forges a unique identity for the company.
- A particular business project.
- An original combination of different fields.
- An original way of presenting a shop, of selling, or linking different services together.
- An innovative product or service, or with a unique logic.
- A training concept…
However, according to the famous legal adage attributed to Henri Desbois:ideas are “in essence and by destination free to be used”. They cannot be protected under intellectual property law. Only the materialization of an idea can be protected. This may seem brutal to some entrepreneurs who have put together a successful concept or to young entrepreneurs who think they have found the concept that will enable them to launch their business, and yet this is the legal reality in most countries, including France.
Although there is no legal protection for a concept per se, it is possible to secure it in several ways.