Initial Idea Protection
Non-Disclosure (Confidentiality) Agreements
By Stephen Paul Gnass
At best, these types of companies do the bare miminum in order to stay within the limits of the law. For example, nobody actually evaluates any inventions. Instead their evaluation reports are pre-written for a variety of industries (called boiler plates) and they just insert the name of each client's invention throughout the report to customize it. The information is extremely general and not of much value or benefit to the inventor, yet these companies charge hundreds of dollars for these reports (an average of $400-500.00).
In terms of filing a patent, sometimes the patent they file is merely the $10.00 Document Disclosure program. Other times, the patent they file ends up being worthless to the inventor because it was quickly drafted and filed with the patent office without regard for the product's special qualities that needed patent protection. Many times, they file a "design" patent which is easier to file but is considered an inferior type of patent (a "utility" patent is the strongest form of protection available, but takes a lot of time, skill and work).
When submitting the product to industry, they may actually do a few mailings - but they are not targeted to the right types of companies or individuals. Often their mailing lists are old and out of date.
In the final analysis, these companies end up charging an average of $3-10,000 or more for performing no work at all, which usually ends up jeopardizing the inventors rights to the idea, depleting the inventor's financial resources, and completely discouraging the inventor who usually has to start over again from scratch.
Therefore, beware of any organization that offers to "do it all for you". And one major tip-off to these types of companies is that they always send out Non-Disclosure Agreements as part of their "free information kits". Therefore we recommend extreme caution with any company that sends you one of these, and expects you to fill it out and mail it back before they will even talk to you about their company's services.
TIP: If you have previously filled out and mailed out Non-Disclosure Agreements or Confidentiality Agreements to any of these companies, your best protection is to immediately begin your log book, and the other steps outlined in this course in order to protect yourself properly as fast as possible. This, along with selectively using the Non-Disclosure Agreement in the future, will help you correct course.
If you have purchased an evaluation report, be sure to let us know and we will guide you on how to determine whether it is a legitimate report or a "boiler plate" evaluation.
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