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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    1

    Default Landlord Stole My Business Idea

    Hello,


    I'm starting a new business (in California) and I'm having a slight issue.. About a month ago, I contacted a realtor about a commercial unit available for lease. He asked what type of business I was starting so I told him, he says "oh, that's a hot new business it should do well here", then I asked him a few more questions which he relayed to the landlord.

    About a month later I call him back to ask a few more questions, and he tells me the Landlord is putting in his own business (exactly like mine) in the exact location I was asking about..

    Can I do anything about this? Are NDAs and Non-competition agreements standard for commercial lease inquires?

    Thanks in advance,

    Greg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Landlord Stole My Business Idea

    Read your contract and see if there's any form of non-disclosure or non-competition clause in it. I doubt it.

    A commercial lease for a shopping center will typically include a provision (the terms of which are subject to negotiation) limiting the landlord's right to rent to tenants who will open competing businesses. But you don't have a lease.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: Landlord Stole My Business Idea

    Quote Quoting gregh530
    View Post
    Hello,


    I'm starting a new business (in California) and I'm having a slight issue.. About a month ago, I contacted a realtor about a commercial unit available for lease. He asked what type of business I was starting so I told him, he says "oh, that's a hot new business it should do well here", then I asked him a few more questions which he relayed to the landlord.

    About a month later I call him back to ask a few more questions, and he tells me the Landlord is putting in his own business (exactly like mine) in the exact location I was asking about..

    Can I do anything about this? Are NDAs and Non-competition agreements standard for commercial lease inquires?

    Thanks in advance,

    Greg

    My dad rents out stores he owns and this is not an unusual problem.

    About 20 or so years ago, video rental stores was the next hot business, and he had a few inquires on it. A friend of his, another landlord, got inquiries on it as well, and decided to open a video store in the spot himself.

    Question?? If you were a landlord, someome asks about the empty store as a video store, does that mean you are then FORBIDDEN forever to open a video store yourself?? You're only allowed if no one asks??

    There is no law I know if that says if an owner is asked, he's not allowed to go into that or any other business, especially, if no confidentiality agreements are signed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Key West, FL
    Posts
    2,350

    Default Re: Landlord Stole My Business Idea

    First, it sounds like you called the realtor that represents the landlord. In the ideal world you would have your own realtor that you would have a contractual relationship with.

    If the realtor represented the landlord, then you have no contract with him. He has NO obligation to you. He represents the landlord, NOT you.

    There is no intellectual property protection of "ideas".

    "Man with lose lips sinks his own ship", to paraphrase a famous WWII expression.

    Different businesses have different barriers to entry. Some businesses can be set up and run by anybody. Franchises are one of these, though you need money to start. Other businesses need specific skill sets, significant equipment or inventory investment, significant capital investment, and some require lots of permits, licenses and other legal work.

    The more money and skill it takes, the higher the barrier to entry. The higher the barrier to entry, chances are, the better the business. High barriers to entry limit the competition.

    OBVIOUSLY, your business "idea" had a very low barrier to entry, which means it really wasn't a good business idea. Apparently, you were hoping that the location alone would make it go.

    Sorry, you have NO recourse whatsoever.

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