Initial Idea Protection
Non-Disclosure (Confidentiality) Agreements
By Stephen Paul Gnass
USE THE NON-DISCLOSURE (CONFIDENTIALITY) AGREEMENT SELECTIVELY WITH ESSENTIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS THAT YOU HAVE DECIDED TO WORK WITH:
The Non-Disclosure (Confidentiality) Agreement is recommended as a tool for you to use once you have progressed to the point where you have done everything you can do on your own, and absolutely need a professional to assist you with the next phase.
For example, you may need to hire a professional prototype maker to help you develop a working model of your product. Yet, while you are in the initial phase of "shopping" for a prototype maker, you do not need to reveal all of the details about how your product works, nor is it necessary to have the prototype maker sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement.
In the shopping phase, you will want to find out what kind of experience the company has, what successful clients they have had, examples of their work, what their fees are, how they charge, what forms of payment they accept, how long a typical project takes, and other questions along those lines. They do not need to know what your product is in order to answer these basic questions for you.
Some of these companies may operate like a doctor's office where they initially provide you with a Non-Disclosure Agreement to fill out while you wait in the lobby. In this case, fill out the basic contact information and explain to the receptionist that you cannot complete the entire form. In other cases, the company may say that they can't provide you with an accurate quote or estimate without knowing what the product is.
This may be true, but you can still get a general idea of the price range for a product similar to yours - without revealing your product. Explain that you understand their concern, but that you are not ready to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement yet, and cannot reveal what your product is because you are in the early stages. In order to get a sample quote, provide them with a similar product that is already out on the market. For example, you can ask them to give you a quote on making a typical toothbrush prototype. This way, when you have quotes from several companies on the same product , you'll have a "general" idea of the costs and can compare their advice and pricing.
In this way, if you have spoken with ten prototype companies, you haven't given away the full details of your product to all ten companies - when in fact you'll only be working with one.
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