NDA questions

Hi all,

I have a couple questions regarding NDAs and showing a product to a company.

I was wondering if any of you have any thoughts, suggestions, &/or resources for NDAs for both (if there’s a difference) presenting to a company/buyer and a fabricator? Some details below.

Product #1
After three years of developing a product in my spare time, I think it’s damn close to presentation to the real world.

Product #2
Another item (completely unrelated to the first) I plan to have a local company fabricate functional prototypes to final versions, as they will do it faster/better than me. While it has distinct physical utility aspects, its real value might be in its use in branding, for lack of a better description.

With both items, I plan to try to sell the ideas/product to companies, as option #1, so I have started researching NDAs & patents (searching & filing).

Besides this request, I’m researching elsewhere on the interweb, and similar C77 posts.

I’m also happy to hear any thoughts on ‘selling my idea’ that you might want to share.

Thanks in advance for any help and advice.


If you are completely new to this and want something actually enforceable, I would just sit down with a local attorney who can draft the NDA up for you and make sure the terms are appropriate.

There are different types of NDA’s including one way and mutual NDA’s which may be appropriate for different situations, especially if the other party isn’t at risk of giving you privileged information (ex you want to do a road show and don’t want people to talk about what they see).

A patent attorney will also be able to help give you information on starting the patent process - which I will warn you is often going to be a substantial cash drain unless you are familiar with what makes your design novel, what could be done to circumvent the patent, and if the amount of time and money you would have to invest legally is actually worth it. Likewise you would need to understand if your IP would need to be covered under a utility patent, design patent, or both.

In reality I find most people who ask these questions are worried about the safety of their ideas, when most successful entrepreneurs focus on getting their product to market as fast as possible. If it’s truly a new and valuable product, you will have sales and enough competitive first mover advantage to not need to worry about others catching up. If it is a not so novel trinket which could be easily copied by China, then your patents won’t really mean much. Your only hope would be to generate enough sales that by the time you got knocked off, people knew why your fidget spinner was the best, or you had made enough money to recoup your initial investment and move on to the next idea.

Real feedback right here!

Hi Mike,

Thank you for responding and sharing your thoughts.

Yes I’m completely new to this. From all the research I realize that patents costs a lot and while figuring I’ll have to see a lawyer at some point, I’m hoping to learn enough to go in well prepared, to minimize the lawyer time & in the case of NDAs was hoping that I might be able to do it myself.

Part of the reason I’m hoping I can protect the ideas with NDAs, is that I’m hoping I can get enough protection to present it, and then, if it was purchased, let the company do the real, permanent, protection themselves. I’m also considering provisional patents as well. If no one buys, then I’ll see about proper patents, or what not, myself as Option #2 is for me is to ‘go it alone’.

How novel these and a couple other ideas I have, is variable, but they could easily be knocked off by China in no time. Deliberately with idea #1 & “Because it happens to be very similar to something already made.” with idea #2, they would use ‘the same’, well established, factories. To a degree, this is part of the sell to companies, they already produce similar products and they already have the fabrication in place. My idea is ‘next years model’, to a certain degree. This also might work for me if I go it alone, and need to do high volume production, as again, the factories already are producing very similar stuff for a few well known companies.

The dream would be would be to sell these two ideas, clear the decks, & concentrate on the next, couple of really interesting ideas…

Thanks again for your time and advice.

Keep in mind depending on who you plan on trying to pitch this to, many companies purposely will not accept externally solicited ideas. The main reason being, if you show up with an NDA, show them Widget A - which turns out to be substantially similar to something they are already working on, they’ve just put themselves in a bind.

If it is a quick turn lifecycle product, more than likely your patents wouldn’t be granted in the time it takes you to get the product to market, making it really less effective.

You can google both mutual and one way NDA’s, but most lawyers probably won’t charge you much. You can also grab an NDA template, read through it yourself crossing off anything that doesn’t seem to apply then ask a lawyer to review it. That likely won’t cost more than $150-300 for an hour of their time and feedback.

I say it’s worth going to the lawyer because I have been in a situation where I have had to lawyer up after being threatened to be sued, and the template I had been using was from another state which included statutes that didn’t apply where we were doing business. We wound up settling, but there would have been a chance they’d throw out the agreement if we had to go to court because sections didn’t apply.