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What Are Idea Submission Cases?

Our Los Angeles Intellectual Property Lawyers Explain the Meaning of Idea Submission Cases

One area of intellectual property law involves idea submission cases. Idea submission cases arose in California and were created because it is often difficult to establish a copyright violation. At Yadegar, Minoofar & Soleymani LLP, our attorneys will help you maintain control over your ideas and intellectual property. In this video, Los Angeles intellectual property lawyer Navid Soleymani explains the formation of idea submission cases and how they affect California intellectual property law.

Video Transcript

Another area of intellectual property law is called idea submission cases. Idea submission cases arose in California in response to the fact that it is sometimes difficult for people to establish a copyright violation. So let me give you an example: A creative person goes into a movie studio, pitches an idea about a movie, and the studio takes their idea, doesn’t compensate the person and makes a movie out of it. Well, under the prior law, the person would try to bring a copyright claim against them. The movie studio would say well wait a minute, you are suing us for an idea, and we know that copyright law does not protect ideas, it protects expressions of ideas. Your idea wasn’t really a screenplay yet. It didn’t have dialogue yet. It didn’t have characters yet, so I can do that. I can take your idea. Well, the courts didn’t like that result, and so they created this doctrine called idea submission cases. Sometimes it is called the Desney doctrine, because the case that created it was called Desney. What it says is if you go into a meeting and you pitch an idea, and you reasonably expected that if they took your idea you would be compensated for it, then you have a claim under this idea submission doctrine to sue them for what is called an implied contract. The law creates an implied contract that if they take your idea, then they better pay you for it. That’s an important protection for creative people, especially in Hollywood, to make sure that other people just don’t rip off their ideas and make money from it without compensating them.

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