A Sydney IT firm has claimed Domino’s Pizza Enterprises stole the technology used in its GPS tracking system that allows customers to follow their pizza from store to door.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.afr.com
This is a really tough topic. Having been involved with a number of new ventures including one which also pitched a concept to Domino’s. I came up with a great idea for the food delivery industry using GPS a few years ago, based around the ability to deliver to anyone anywhere with mutual ability for the customer and the vendor to see each other on a mobile, not dissimilar in concept to what Uber now do where the customer and the driver can find each other.
We didn’t have money to patent the concept and that’s a real challenge for small businesses and particularly startups. This is an interesting case given that that the technology was commercially tested by Domino’s. Of course the story doesn’t say anything about Confidentiality Agreements or other measures that Precision did or didn’t put in place to protect their IP.
It does say something about commercial process and the eagerness to show a potential client how great your ideas or knowledge are. I have given away a lot of consultancy expertise for free, in the hope that it will generate income and convince potential clients that it was not risky to employ a young company over larger established brands.
Two years ago I was asked in to a FMCG company to help them solve a costly technology problem that no one had been able to work out including their suppliers, over a couple of years. I worked it out by asking a few pointed questions and solved the problem in the meet and greet phase of the relationship. I should have kept my mouth shut, gone through a process of consultancy and given them the answer to their problem in due course, with some other value add. Instead I solved it on the spot, saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars for free and they didn’t even do me the courtesy of sending me a thank you note.
Protecting IP is very difficult today unless you are a global giant or perhaps a university, with resources to understand the processes for copyright, patent search and registration and other forms of intellectual property protection. It’s scary just sharing ideas with strangers and this means that often ideas don’t get off the ground or they get stolen and I have seen both of those many times.
Perhaps there is an opportunity for companies like Precision to mentor (for a consideration) other companies and share what they have learned.
Today we are also talking a lot more about open source and co-opetition. Today we talk about fail fast, of course to succeed fast also requires capital and that is the one thing that most new ventures don’t have, especially when they are in leading edge technologies and concepts.
I hope that Precision have lots more ideas up their sleeves and (not knowing the details) the best form of revenge would be to come up with even better ideas (which isn’t difficult in the location based services industry) and sell them to Domino’s competitors quickly.
If they think the way I do, they will have already been thinking about version 4 and 5 enhancements for that solution. As long as they haven’t shared those with Domino’s, the best response would be to form a partnership with one of their competitors and deliver a service that knocks them off their pedestal.
If you feel some sympathy for these guys, pop on over to their web page and send them a comment. Tell them you heard about it from me. It will cheer them up:)