Protection of your business and design may involve contract, trade secret, copyright, trademark and other intellectual property principles. You don't need a patent to protect various aspects of intellectual property. A patent is, however, very valuable if this design would qualify.
As to how to protect your business, you should not think about doing this yourself and this could not be remotely explained here. Hire a business attorney and speak with an intellectual property lawyer.
This answer is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice regarding your question and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
Wisconsin has different laws from other states on employment contracts. Do not attempt to just take something from the internet if you want something enforceable.
Hire an intellectual property lawyer and an employment lawyer.
Confidential information should not be disclosed in this Internet forum. I am a Wisconsin lawyer. The laws in each jurisdiction can be very different. I cannot give legal advice over the internet nor can I establish an attorney client relationship with you. You should NOT assume or otherwise conclude that there is an attorney -client relationship between any reader and this writer or his firm. These comments are only guideposts. They are not subject to any privilege protections. Indeed, these internet communications are neither privileged nor confidential. Accordingly, those using this form of communication need to be guarded in what they write. Because of the nature of these communications the information is general only and should not be relied upon in any specific case. This internet site is public forum, where the communications are not confidential or privileged. There may very well be merit to your defense or position in this type of situation. However, there are hardly sufficient details for an attorney to provide you with some path to follow. It is imperative that ALL of the facts in a particular situation be examined. No conclusion can be drawn from the communication that you have provided. There are some matters that are just better handled by an attorney familiar with the procedures of the courts in your area. Most, if not all, legal matters should not be handled via internet communication. At best, the responders on this site can give you a few hints and guidance. To deal with a legal problem, nothing is better than to consult with a lawyer who will give you some time and advice. If you cannot afford an attorney, there should be agencies in your area that can provide discounted, or even free, legal services. Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin http://addbalance.com Talking to the Police - Advice from Lawyers and Police: http://addbalance.com/police.htm
I concur with the previous responses, but when we say "hire a lawyer", it's not because we just want the business. This is simply not a "do it yourself" situation. When starting or continuing a business, you should include legal fees in your budget, because having the work done correctly at the beginning is much better than spending ten times that amount later to try to fix it.
You need a Wisconsin business lawyer, who will review your business model and consult any specialists as needed, such as an IP attorney, tax attorney, Internet attorney, etc. It would be best if the attorney had expertise in Internet startups, particularly in the video game field. Google "Internet startup attorney Wisconsin" on Avvo Find A Lawyer and review the results and pick one. You cannot do this yourself without a huge legal exposure and risk.
I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.
Hire a games industry expert attorney who is familiar with non-competes, non-disclosure agreements, employment contracts, and other employment law principles specific to the games industry.
The author is a Maryland attorney; however no answer given on Avvo is intended as legal advice or intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Dan's expertise lies in the electronic entertainment (video game) industry, as well as complex internet law issues, electronic free speech, entertainment law, copyright and trademark law, and computer fraud. He primarily represents game developers and founders of emergent internet technologies.
Employment law for businesses Business contracts Non-disclosure agreement (NDA) Intellectual property Trade secrets Copyrights Patents Trademarks Business Employment Employment forms Employment contracts NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) and employees Startups Employee contract for businesses