Thought Exercise: Confidential Proposal

You are co-owner of Car Factory, Inc., an automotive engineering design firm. You have patented a new device to cut gasoline emissions by almost 4/5 without any additional cost.

You are in close competition with a rival, Autoworks, a cross-town firm that has patented a similar device. Each of you is eager to sell your device to the large auto companies.

You met with representatives from a major U.S. automaker in your conference room yesterday morning to make your initial pitch. Yesterday afternoon, one of your custodians came to you holding a thick document. He handed it to you and said, “I found this in the conference room. It was under one of the chairs. I think the car people left it here.”

You take the document from him and see this label on the front: “Proposal made to U.S. Motor Company by Autoworks Confidential.”

Clearly, one of the U.S. Motor Company representatives accidentally left your rival company’s proposal under his chair. It’s in your hands.

What do you do?