Everyone "borrows" ideas from others in one way or another. What I"m talking about is where a manager blatantly steals what could be a copyrighted idea or program from you, and never compensates or even acknowledges it. This might be a presentation, product marketing plan, or a website design.
Article today in the Wall Street Journal points out if you're job hunting, you'd better take careful measures to protect your work (managing_your_career). You might, for example, put a disclaimer on your work--example, a business plan--pointing out that it's only for the job interview purposes. Or you can offer samples of work you've completed, "...rather than craft something new. If the hiring manager insists on fresh samples, show off your brainpower without giving away all the goods. "Exclude necessary details that would then make [a proposal] impossible to implement," says Richard Bayer, chief operating officer of the Five O'Clock Club, a career-counseling network in New York.
Luckily this doesn't happen often--most people we deal with in the corporate world are above outright thievery. But there are a few. And then there are the plain lazy ones. They may not steal an entire product--say a presentation or an advertisement--but they'll drain you for everything you've developed. Then they'll use it to create their own masterpiece.
If you're pitching a product or service, be careful about giving the client too much information or something they can simply run away with and copy. One sales trainer refers to this as "spilling too much candy in the lobby." This might be a detailed product marketing plan, for example, or a newsletter design.
As with the job hunters, try to keep your samples somewhat generic vs detailed step by step samples. And whatever you do, try to avoid sending them the entire product electronically (or even a print copy).
Sometimes this is hard to avoid. We were pitching a small organization at a well-known Fortune 500 company in Silicon Valley a couple of months ago, and the mid level manager questioned us for over an hour.