When you have an unpatented invention, you need to talk about. You can use a non-disclosure agreement to protect your ideas.
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- A non-disclosure agreement or confidentiality agreement is used when you have an unpatented idea that you need to show to a third party and you want that party to not reveal any information about your idea.
- The inventor is the one who usually provides the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) at the meeting.
- In summary, the other party signs in a non-disclosure agreement that he/she will not disclose any of the information about your invention, except under terms as described in the contract, and will not market the idea or compete with you.
- Having a meeting or discussion about your invention, without an non-disclosure agreement, would constitute a public disclosure. You then would only have one year to file for a patent or forever lose that right.
- Do not use an non-disclosure agreement lightly. Only approach third parties when you have to (i.e. you need a prototype built and you can't do it yourself).
- Even with an non-disclosure agreement, still only talk about your invention them with people whose integrity you can trust. Even with a person you trust, always sign an non-disclosure agreement before discussing your invention.
- Non-disclosure agreements are the cheapest form of protection for an invention you can use, but they are not a substitute for a patent application. Do not rely on them to protect you.
- Non-disclosure agreements are contracts that are controlled by state law, some states find non-disclosure agreements invalid. Consider having a lawyer write your non-disclosure agreement.
- A lawyer can also help you draw a contract which is suitable to both parties. Many large companies routinely refuse to sign an non-disclosure agreement, fearing that it may later result in a lawsuit.
- You can shop for services without using an non-disclosure agreement. Use general terms and examples of similar products already on the market to describe your invention and get a cost estimate.
- Some less than honest invention companies will send you a signed non-disclosure agreement. Please read the related feature on "Invention Company Scams".
- Get to the patent pending stage first before approaching any venture capitol, development, marketing or licensing companies.