Sidney, OH asked in Business Formation and Business Law for Ohio

Q: Do I have to give credit to former group members when starting up a software company?

I am interested in creating a program that I started in college for a capstone class. In the capstone class I worked with a group and did research for the program but we never finished it or put it forward as a complete product. I am using some of the feedback we received from the version of the program we created to create a completely new program alone. I was unsure as to whether or not I had to include my former group members in the new project that I will be attempting to sell if it works when all that I am using from that is some of the ideas that we got from people for an incomplete project and for the basic idea of the project? And to what extent I would need to credit them and give them a share of profits?

1 Lawyer Answer
Joseph Jaap
Joseph Jaap
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Licensed in Ohio

A: Ideas themselves are not patentable - they have to be put into use. If you alone write a program based on ideas developed by a group, then unless there was a contract or other agreement among the group or with the college, you own the copyright on the program, and are entitled to profit from the sales without sharing. Whether you share is more an ethical issue than a legal issue. But anybody can sue anyone for anything. If other members of the group learn you have done that, they could sue to get a piece of the profits, but they would have to prove a legal basis to be entitled to profits. Use the Find a Lawyer tab and retain a local business attorney who can review all the facts of the situation and advise you.

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