Initial Idea Protection
Non-Disclosure (Confidentiality) Agreements
By Stephen Paul Gnass
It may seem like these companies are requesting the information in order to determine whether or not your idea is a marketable product. It may also seem like a safe thing to do because the company has signed that they will not discuss your idea with anyone else.
But when you stop and think about it, these companies are asking inventors to mail them a full description of their idea to someone on their staff the inventor has never met, who works at a company the inventor has never heard of or worked with before, which is perhaps in another state! Yet these companies expect inventors to trust a complete faceless stranger with the full details of their valuable idea, before the inventor has determined if and how they can help him/her! You're only "shopping" for services!
In dealing with any companies, you just need to stay on track and remember what the purpose of your call is. The fact is that you have contacted this company because you saw their ad and wanted to find out what services they can offer you. At this point, you really do not have enough information yet to make a decision about whether you want to work with them or not. You do not need to reveal the specific details of your unprotected idea to any company in order to find out what services they offer and to see if and how they might be able to assist you.
Ironically, these types of companies do not generally "steal" the idea and market it themselves as you might suspect. Instead, they are fee-based and charge exorbitant fees, proposing to handle ALL phases of commercializing your idea - doing the evaluation report, doing a patent search, getting the patent, and submitting the product to industry to get it licensed or sold. This is a VERY tempting concept especially because most people with new ideas already have a full-time job and don't feel they have the time to do it all themselves.
But the problem with these companies is that their expertise is only in promoting and selling their services - not in delivering results for inventors. Once they receive the Non-Disclosoure Agreement with the details of an inventor's idea, they act like experts and state that the idea DEFINITELY has potential. In truth, the inventor has only been speaking with a sales representative, who has not done any research at all. However, people who are not familiar with the process of inventing feel encouraged by the promise of success, and many do end up signing up with these companies.
Home / Americas Inventor / Inventing 101 / Books / ScamBusters / Inside Washington / Special Reports / NCIO:Past-Present-Future / Resource Links