Is It Legal To Copy Another Company’s Business Plan?

In the world of business, it is certainly true that things can get complicated – especially for those who are new to the world, and unfamiliar with the requirements, and indeed the legalities, that they need to be aware of. 

Is It Legal To Copy Another Company’s Business Plan

This unfortunately embodies the entirety of the process, even down to the creation of a business plan – which in itself can bring its share of confusion. 

But how exactly do you create a business plan, and what are the legal requirements? 

What Is A Business Plan? 

In the industry, a business plan is a document created by the business owner with the purpose of highlighting the goals, timelines, aims, and objectives for the proposed business – including any financial requirements, targets, and setbacks that might be on the horizon. 

An artfully constructed business plan is important for many reasons, and can be the difference between success and failure. This is true for things like seeking sponsorship and investment, taking out business loans, and floating your business idea amongst potential partners. 

As such, if things aren’t quite right, then it can sink a business before it has even begun. 

Can You Copy Business Plans? 

This is not a question with a simple answer, and the truth is that it depends how you go about it, and what elements you decide to take inspiration from. 


Generally speaking, there are no laws in place to protect business ideas – and in fact the law can only get involved if the copied idea in question had been patented or protected in some way. 

If this is the case, then copying amounts to theft of intellectual property, and legal issues can indeed arise. 

This is however much more difficult to pursue than with creative ideas – which are more easily identifiable from one another, and have a lot more protections in place with regards to the law. 

Business plans do not have the same protections in place – due in part to the fact that many businesses operate on similar trajectories, plans, and frameworks to achieve their results. 

The Facts

The fact of the matter is that for every good business idea, there are thousands more that are incredibly similar – if not the same. This is just the nature of the market, how trends work, and very much highlight how inspiration works in the business world. 

Sure, you might think you have an original idea, but then you can go to another city and discover three other businesses that do what you do. 

It is this fact that makes the legality of the whole thing a gray area – not to mention tricky to pursue and enforce, as it is the very nature of the marketplace, and competition is a normal part of the industry. 

What Elements Can You Copy? 

That being said, there are still certain differences between taking inspiration from the bare bones of a company’s business plan, and outright stealing an idea.

As such, there are many elements that are fine for you to mimic, and others that you definitely should avoid. 


When it comes to copying another company’s business plans, you are okay if this only relates to the physical framework of their design, and the plans they have in place.

This is because similar businesses obviously exist – look at any high street – and as such they are going to have many of the same requirements and goals. 

This is all about assimilating knowledge from existing, successful businesses, and then making it your own as you move forward – and as far as this process goes, a solid framework is important. 


It is also perfectly acceptable for a new business to base their plans, goals, and targets upon companies that have already achieved success in that field. 

This is natural, and how the business world works. Setting like minded goals is not only how inspiration works, but how the economy is bolstered in general.

There are only so many routes to success in business, and as such having the same goals is not only legal, but encouraged. 


This is another thing you can quite easily copy and take inspiration from – namely because a method of doing something is not a protected issue. 

If you have taken inspiration from a successful company, and seek to mimic their route to success – in terms of seeking financial help, investment, and sponsorship – then this is also absolutely fine to employ within your own business plan. 

What Is Not Okay To Copy? 

There are however some elements of business plans that are best for you not to copy – or else face potential lawsuits if the company in question gets wind of your intentions. 

Is It Legal To Copy Another Company’s Business Plan (1)

Creative Ideas

If you have a specific idea that is original to you, then all the better.

However, if you have taken direct inspiration from another company, and you haven’t bothered to put your own spin on things, then this is tantamount to stealing intellectual property – and while difficult to pursue and claim against in some cases, it could still lead to potential legal issues. 

Specific Ad Campaigns

There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other companies’ ad campaigns – especially of the ‘where’, and the ‘how’. 

The problem begins when you purposely mimic or copy a company’s chosen ad campaign to such a degree that it is almost identical. 

There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from their plan of strategy – i.e. both of you using social media or whatever – but when it comes to copying their campaign to the letter, you could find yourself in hot water. 

What Are Some Things To Remember? 

There are also some things that are important to bear in mind creating your own business plan – especially if you have taken inspiration from existing businesses. 

Originality Is Key

Originality is the key to success, and is very much the name of the game in business. This is tantamount to finding a ‘niche’ – that is, your own specific take on a theme that makes you unique. 

While making smart business decisions and plans are paramount for success, investors are not looking for businesses that are clones of existing ones – they want something new and exciting. 

Fight Market Saturation

What’s more, the industry doesn’t need a thousand businesses that are all the same. This leads to a saturated market, and a lack of profits for everyone. 

If no one has a speciality, and everyone delivers the same service, then it stops being a pathway to success, and merely becomes a localized competition amongst identical businesses. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about business plans, and whether it is legal to copy another company’s plan for your own. 

It’s true that the world of business can be a complicated legal minefield, with requirements for the business owner to know and be aware of. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help even the biggest newbie get to grips in no time. 

So if you are set on creating a business plan, then be sure to heed this advice!

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