Who owns an idea?
There are ways to protect them, like trademarks, copyrights and patents, but if you don’t have that, is an idea yours?
If you tell a friend or family member your idea and they use it, is it theft or a betrayal or just bad luck?
A woman struggling with lingering resentment over an idea she shared turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
“AITA for refusing to attend my sister’s wedding because her fiancé stole my business idea?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“I (28, female) find myself in a really tough spot and need some honest opinions on what I should do. My sister (25, female) is getting married soon, and the entire family is ecstatic, but I am not.”
“Her fiancé (30, male) stole a business idea from me a few years back, and I’m seriously considering skipping the wedding because of it.”
“Backstory: I’d been working on a unique business concept for a few years, and I told my sister about it. I thought we were close.”
“Fast forward a bit, and lo and behold, her fiancé launches the same damn business, basically stealing my idea and profiting off it. They even used some promo ideas I had already come up with basically word for word.”
“This scheme is what is funding most of their wedding, FYI.”
“I confronted them about it, and they played dumb, acting like it was ‘just a coincidence’, and they ‘had no idea’. I was furious, hurt, and betrayed, but for the sake of the family, I decided not to press the issue any further.”
“Now the wedding is approaching, and my parents are pressuring me to attend after I mentioned to them that I want to skip it. They argue that family comes first, and I should set aside my grievances for the sake of my sister’s big day.”
“On the other hand, I feel like attending would be a slap in the face, as I feel it would signal that what they did is forgivable and that I’m okay with being walked all over.”
“So AITA for wanting to skip my sister’s wedding over this?”
“Should I put aside my feelings and be there for her, or is it fair for me to take a stand against what feels like a major betrayal? I’m torn.”
The OP later added:
“A few of you really wanted to know what the business idea was. I can’t go into detail as it is pretty niche and would be easy to look up and find out a bit too much personal info on my brother-in-law.”
“I can tell you, though, that it was an app idea; it is identical to the idea I was working on.”
“Also, some people are defending BIL by saying that I ‘wasn’t going to go through with it’. I had been taking part-time entrepreneurship classes at a local college and was teaching myself how to build an app at the time.”
“I told my sister about it and showed her what I was working on. He stole the idea before I had the chance to go through with it and sold it to his buds, now he co-owns it.”
“I think it’s also important to note that I dabble in photography, and from conversations with my parents, it sounds like my sister wants me to photograph her wedding for her, but I have not heard anything about intended payment for photographing her wedding.”
“So by not going, not only would I be causing a bit of drama, but I’d also be leaving them without a photographer, according to my mom. I never agreed to photograph the wedding, this was apparently ‘assumed’ by my sister.”
The OP summed up their situation.
“I’m still very upset over what my sister and her fiancé did to me, but my family says that I should put that aside to be there for her on her wedding day.”
“I’m torn because I don’t want her to think that what she did to me is okay.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).
“NTA, tell your mother if family comes first, then why did your sister and her fiance steal your business idea?”
“It seems your sister has a unique idea on how to deal with family.” ~ floridaeng
Several people remarked the pressure to make amends was being placed on the wrong person.
“Yeah, they always say family comes first to the hurt party but never to the ones who hurt them.” ~ Hungry-hippo12
“Do you also notice how ‘Be the bigger person and just make amends!’ is NEVER said to the person who wronged someone but is always said to the victim?” ~ ZenechaiXKerg
“100%. And ‘keep the peace’ is always demanded of the person whose peace has been disrupted by someone else.” ~ jabberwockjess
“‘Be the bigger person and just make amends!’ = ‘Lie down flatter doormat, so I can walk over you easier!’.” ~ FinLee1963
“Always be the bigger person—by removing these small people from your life. NTA.” ~ QuestioningHuman_api
Some suggested OP didn’t owe her sister a photographer or her family an explanation.
“NTA. Don’t mention you want to skip it, just say to anyone who asks I’m not going and don’t!” ~ ZookeepergameNo7151
“NTA. This is based on taking you at your word that they ripped off a unique idea, making it hard for you to now use the idea for yourself without being in direct competition and looking like the one copying their business, putting you behind the eight ball from the outset.”
“They did betray you, and going would look like you were signaling that you were willing to let it be water under the bridge.”
“The thing is, A-holes count on time healing (and hiding) all wounds, and they may be counting on it—that you would come around, and they would get away with it with no real consequences.”
“You don’t have to be pressured into just taking it because the rest of the family wants to celebrate the wedding and pretend that your sister and her soon-to-be husband haven’t stabbed you in the back.”
“If you don’t want to go, don’t go. Tell family pressuring you that they are all welcome to go but to leave you out of it.”
“Their betrayal is a real and serious thing, and you are not willing to go along with pretending it isn’t just because acknowledging it is inconvenient when the rest of the family just wants to forget about it and celebrate.”
“Your sister and her SO have done nothing to make things right, and you are not going to give them a free pass on this level of betrayal.” ~ kurokomainu
“NTA, forget that future BIL stole a business idea. If they assume you will be their photographer without asking or even offering payment, then I’d not go for that reason alone.”
“If they haven’t organized a photographer or even bothered to ask if you would do it, tough sh*t.” ~ Haggis_Hunter81289
“Heck, if I had planned on going and learned she expected me to be her photographer without even asking or letting me know, I’d make sure I turned up without any cameras and then act shocked when she asks me to take photos.”
“I mean, you’re not a mind reader, and she never told you, nor did she ask what your fees are.”
“Does she expect you to take your camera and enough film for a whole wedding everywhere you go? Just in case some entitled person thinks you should be their photographer without your knowledge?
“However, since you don’t want to go in the first place, just don’t go.”
“If your mum complains because you knew she wanted you as her photographer, make it clear you got told secondhand that she did. Not once did she ask you, not once did she ask prices or tell you set ups she wanted throughout the day.”
“Instead, she disrespected you. She expected you to be psychic, and that’s on you?”
“Why does ‘but it’s family’ only count for you? Your sister wronged you and then thought without an apology or even asking that she could just use you without even having a discussion with you.”
“None of that is your problem. She didn’t care about FAMILY when she betrayed you. She’s shown she doesn’t respect you and just thinks she can secondhand demand your photography services without even knowing if you were going.”
“You warned your mum that you weren’t going, so they can’t complain when you follow through, acting like they didn’t know.”
“You’re not just some prop to be used and abused by her, and no one has the right to demand you be so. If someone wants you to do them a favor, they ask you, and they show you respect.”
“Then they appreciate you still have the right to say no.” ~ Sweet-Interview5620
“NTA. If you don’t have good, loving feelings about a person—no matter who they are—don’t attend their happy celebrations. Why would you want to, and why would they want someone to?”
“If you’re uncomfortable attending because of how you feel about your sister or your future brother-in-law, don’t go. If people insist on pressuring you, just tell them you can’t make the wedding because you have other plans, but you’ll clear your schedule for the divorce.”
“Then make plans out of town while you mute their calls/texts, even if it’s just hanging out in a nice hotel for a weekend.” ~ Reddit
The OP hasn’t stated whether they definitely will or won’t go to the wedding, but Reddit certainly advised against it.