When your intellectual property is stolen, it’s your very idea that is being taken by someone else.

Some argue that ideas are easy to come up with and do not have as much inherent value as the execution of that idea. They cite examples like Google and AltaVista, two early web search companies. One clearly became one of the largest tech companies in the world and the other failed, so they say that means ideas themselves aren’t that important. Both companies had the same original goal. It’s the way they executed it that made the difference.

There is some logic there, but it’s important to really consider how specific ideas can work when implemented properly. To say that they don’t have value is very short-sighted. All the above example really proves is that poor implementation can ruin a good idea. That idea, though, is still valuable.

For instance, some experts point to foreign copycat companies. They take ideas being used in the United States — AirBnB and Uber are two popular examples — and then put them into foreign markets. The same ideas tend to take off in places without these businesses in place. What this illustrates is that it is the idea itself that is important. It works in multiple markets and with different teams and different execution, so it’s clear that the idea itself provides something that consumers are interested in.

When you have a new idea and a focus for your company, seeing someone steal it can be frustrating and disheartening. Make sure you know what steps to take to protect yourself and your company.