By Karen Axelton

Are you considering starting a business based on an idea you got while working at a current or past job? If so, read this article from first.

According to Portfolio, employers are increasingly cracking down on theft of intellectual property—that is, ideas—by their current or former employees. And courts are increasingly on the employer’s side. That means if your new business has anything to do with your old job, you’d better mind your P’s and Q’s to be sure you aren’t hit with a lawsuit.

The stakes are high. Losing a lawsuit could lead to having to give your former employer all your profits from the idea, paying the employer for their claims of lost business due to your taking the idea, or even losing your business itself.

One key step to take is finding out whether you signed a noncompete agreement when you first hired on with your employer and, if so, what its restrictions are. Another factor the courts will take into account is whether you used any of your employer’s resources in developing the idea. That could be something as seemingly innocuous (and easy to forget about) as sending an e-mail on your office computer while you’re at work.

There are several other factors you need to consider to make sure you’re on the right side of the law. Take a look at the article to check them out. And remember, starting a business is sweet—but only if it’s truly your own business.