Many people want to keep their ideas secret. However most people don't know how to keep the secret. They just don't discuss, don't reveal, thinking that someone might steal from them.
Keeping an idea secret is not the way to protect it. The part no one can duplicate is your heart and sweat and labor and time. An idea belongs to the public, the execution belongs to you.
Here is how one should treat an idea:
An idea is a dime a dozen. Never cherish an idea. It has been thought about by others.
Do the idea, and it is yours. Keep it a secret, it will forever be locked in your head, before you find the next one.
Don't dream of keeping ideas with NDAs (non disclosure agreement) and patents - they only work to a certain extent and really won't do anything to stop imitators.
The only way to keep an idea yours is to OUT INNOVATE your potential imitators.
The way to keep idea secret is to build it. Bake idea together with know how to the point no one can reverse engineer or circumvent. That is only time when it is safe. So hurry up and build!! If you can not build, learn how to build.
When you have an idea, here is how you should treat it.
Read good stories about how people kept ideas secret while starting up here. (Founders at work, https://www.teensharks.us/startup-park-book-fair)
The way to keep idea secret is to work on it, so that telling others is not going to invite immediate copying.
Can I protect myself with patents? not really. Here is why.
Patents takes time and money to apply. The number of claims you can get will determine the maintenance fee.
It normally takes 3 years for patents to be approved.
If someone has a lot of money, they can always win a patent litigation case, whereas you may lose.
patents shows the competition the idea. If you don't have know how secrecy created during the forging of the product, patents will reveal everything.
patents can be circumvented if others are clever enough. Just a twist of word is sometimes all that is needed.
Every idea needs validation.
The idea is never the secret. How to realize the idea is the secret.