So you have a big idea...and you don't want anyone else to steal it. But you do need to talk about it to other parties in order to further your development and evaluate feasibility, production, and marketability. If you aren't quite ready to file for copyright or patent protection, you should consider using a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also called a confidentiality agreement.
What is an NDA?
A non-disclosure agreement is a contract that establishes a confidential relationship between a person who has sensitive information (in your case, an invention) and a person (or persons) with whom the information will be shared. NDAs are binding for a specified window of time and generally detail which elements of disclosed information are to remain confidential and which are excluded.
Does it offer legal protection for my idea?
Yes, an official NDA is a legally binding contract, safeguarding sensitive information of any kind. This means if a party violates the agreement, you could sue for breach of contract. If you have a trusted attorney you can talk to, he or she can help you draw one up and define terms that work for you.
Beware, however, that an NDA does not protect against all forms of predators who take advantage of budding inventors. For example, someone claiming to help you market your idea might use an NDA to gain your trust, but then make off with any fees you've paid them.
Are there other benefits of using an NDA?
Definitely. In fact, just as essential as the protection an NDA offers is its role in the patent process.
The technical window for an inventor to file a patent on an idea is one year from the first disclosure date. Of course, some ideas take years to develop, and certainly no one wants to be rushed into the patenting process with an idea that's still evolving. But in order to make any sort of progress, an inventor will need and want to talk about their invention—with experts, prototypists, potential manufacturers, potential investors. And to do so would technically initiate the one-year countdown.
The NDA works to protect these conversations from counting toward the Patent Office's timeframe. If the people with whom you want to discuss your idea sign an NDA, thereby agreeing not to talk about your idea to anyone else, the disclosure you make is technically not considered a disclosure.
Confidentiality is a major concern among inventors, and for good reason. Idea Design Studio guarantees 100 percent confidentiality to every inventor we work with. If you’re looking for who to contact if you have an invention, get in touch.