When we imagine our ideas being stolen, we often envision a large corporation duplicating an inventors product. But that's not always the case, Competitors will find any means to replicate or steal an idea that is not protected. Here are three common ways that your idea can be stolen, or copied. First through crowdfunding websites, like GoFundMe, or Kickstarter. These sites are viewable by the general public and accessible around the world. Be sure to take caution when posting an idea or prototype without a pending patent. crowdfunding websites are essentially a catalogue of free ideas for competitors to snatch. Secondly, you may not even realize it. But disclosing your idea to family and friends is actually quite dangerous. discussing the details of your invention can put it at risk of being stolen. Let's say you tell your mom, your mom's proud of you, and she thinks is the best idea that she's ever heard. She may tell your aunt or her friends who will then go on to tell more people until your idea is out in the public, making it easy for someone else to take advantage of it. Now your friends and family may mean well, but they often don't realize the dangers of revealing an unpatented idea. And last, but certainly not least, insufficient protection of your idea when your idea is already out on the market is one of the worst things you can do for your invention. If you're selling your invention, while it's backed by poorly written patent, or no patent at all, you're susceptible to competitors attempting to steal your idea, and any profit you would have made from it. A design or utility patent filed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office are the best methods of preserving your invention for years. The law protects what you own, but that ownership has to be secured by the filing of a patent in order for there to be a court finding of infringement. A board certified patent attorney such as the lawyers at my firm, are best at determining the best form of protection that you need for your idea.