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An interesting thought I have had about documenting my ideas for products that could potentially be copied.

You hear of people with ideas mailing themselves an envelope with their idea written down inside and sealed within a recorded envelope.

However I was thinking that an SVN repository would be a digital equivalent to this, as it:

  1. Shows your design and implementation from the skeleton all they way to full system.
  2. Records dates and times, plus annotations of the actual software written by the dev.
  3. It can be encrypted and backed up making it a reliable source of evidence

So has there been any cases with dispute of Software IP where repositories have been used along with other evidence e.g. Design Docs, Storyboards...

The only problem I can see is that it is database driven so you could fudge the whole repository with fake dates and timestamps etc.

So is it feasible?

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Any thought and effort wasted on this nonsense would be much better spent on actually implementing your ideas. Ideas that aren't implemented are worthless, and there isn't even a legal mechanism where there would be any use for this. –  Michael Borgwardt Mar 28 '13 at 11:02
Problem is that you could forge it, if it does not use some kind of credible timestamping (saving current time is not credible). You need to use some trusted timestamping service or create some physical evidence (eg. "add" containing hash of your repo in newspapers archived in public library). Without this it still is some kind of evidence, but much weaker. And even with this, you still need to convince others that they should trust it. –  user470365 Mar 28 '13 at 11:03
@MichaelBorgwardt ; are you saying SVNs are nonsense for development? :S –  loosebruce Mar 28 '13 at 11:08
He's saying SVN is not an adequate way to determine intellectual property and that it's nonsense to bother with this. –  Jeroen Vannevel Mar 28 '13 at 11:10
Very few ideas are actually unique. 95% of the time, what makes an idea successful is how you implement it. –  Blrfl Mar 28 '13 at 11:17
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closed as off topic by MichaelT, Martijn Pieters, Jalayn, gbjbaanb, Thomas Owens Mar 29 '13 at 0:24

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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

An online SVN hosted by someone else could be used. But really a lawyer could answer this better and would be better if there was a real case so we know how the judges are leaning.

If its hosted by a third party there is less chance that it has been fudged especially if they have old back ups.

Another thing you can do is email your ideas to multiple e mail accounds like gmail, yahoo etc. Can set up a script to do this. Good back up and good proof as well. Script / program could see what files are changed and send those via email to your configured email ids. Besides backups across distributed servers you have a time stamp maintained by someone else.

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