That super-awesome super-original idea you came up with gives you a head start and puts you out ahead of the others.
An original idea puts you in the lead — but not for long.
In the race to get a concept to market, being the one who came up with the concept positions you as the leader of the pack. But not forever.
There are absolutely ways to spend time filling out applications and paying to submit them that will allow some temporary protection for an ideas that is especially unique, but I think you really want to consider your long term plans and goals before you decide to invest the time and the money required to achieve such protection.
Think about the last truly “original” idea you saw come to market…
How long did it take for a knock-off idea to knock it off its pedestal and start eating into its profits?
Survivor used to be THE unscripted reality show leading the herd of other television shows vying for the #1 spot. The very next season there were at least three derivative competitors — Survivor in a house (Big Brother), Survivor for romance (The Bachelor).
The same thing happens with movies.
Die Hard spawned dozens of imitators (Die Hard on a bus, Die Hard on a submarine, etc.) that were just different enough to avoid outright rights infringement, so think about how much money and time would have been wasted trying to protect the Die Hard idea of one guy vs. a building full of terrorists when those protections can be rendered completely useless by the next person who comes along as says “one woman vs. a mall full of armed robbers”.
I think it’s better to use the head start to get to market sooner and profit sooner and move on to the next big idea sooner.
The people who liked and benefited from your last idea will likely follow you on to your next idea. They won’t need to buy the Johnny-come-lately knock-off of your first idea because they already bought the original version from you. Your copy cat’s market shrinks by default because the early adopters already bought from you.
Competitors will always be playing catch-up if you continue to innovate and lead the field.
While your head start for any one idea will be temporary, your ability to continue innovating new and original concepts allows you to create an infinite amount of new head starts.