Let's say you work for a big corporation. And you come up with an idea that may be worth billions. But you don't share your idea with your employer, like you are supposed to. You leave the company to profit from the idea on your own.

This probably happens more than once a year, possibly due to poor incentives. I wonder if there is a term for this in business? What's taking place from the point of view of the big corporation: "innovation capture failure" or some such?

  • As a general expression you “start your own business”.
    – user 66974
    Commented May 12 at 17:45
  • 'Go it alone' is a hypernym. But you don't say whether there's a legal / moral obligation to submit this idea to the company employing you (which there is if you're being paid to come up with such ideas). Commented May 12 at 19:21
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    @EdwinAshworth Typically, your employer owns what you invent, especially if it's relevant to the business.
    – MWB
    Commented May 12 at 19:35
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    From the business's point of view it's often called stealing IP or theft of IP. That's not really a neutral or descriptive term, and wouldn't apply if the action was legal.
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 12 at 19:45
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    If the employee had a dream one night about a better mousetrap, it's not IP theft for the employee to quit their job and go into business. But if the idea for the better mousetrap is derivative of designs to which the employee had access while an employee, the employer could pursue an IP lawsuit.
    – TimR
    Commented May 12 at 21:44

1 Answer 1


It is an intellectual property theft-related loss event. There is no catchy or shorter phrase to describe it. This is the general situation described by OP:

A significant percentage of the IP related risks that an organization faces originates within the organization itself due to the activities of its own people. Sometimes it is due to a lack of awareness and education of IP by employees, other times it is a deliberate act.

In enterprise risk management, it is considered a type of operational internal loss event. Depending on the exact type of IP loss, from the point of view of the corporation, it would be described as any of the following (see Table 1):

loss of intellectual property, loss of IP monetisation, infringement of intellectual property, litigation effort and expense.

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