I would like to present my idea to someone, but I know nothing about Non-Disclosure Agreements. Do these have to be written from scratch, or is there some formula to follow ( a 'fill-in-the-blank'?)
Does the NDA need to be specific to the invention, or does it basically just state that what I'm about to show you must be kept secret?
Do I need to hire a lawyer to write up a sound NDA, or can I do it myself?
There are probably boiler-plate NDA’s available on the internet or in “patents for inventors” books; or you could contact an attorney.
But I suggest that before you start filling in the blanks, or writing a check to a lawyer, start by documenting your ideas and invention. I wrote (i) ideas and (ii) invention. Those are usually related, but separate items of intellectual property.
For example, suppose I just developed a new method of removing spider webs from the outside of a house. (I could use an invention like that.) The invention itself might have a bunch of parts and pieces or chemicals arranged in a particular manner. And the invention would probably include a method of using my gadget; and how to make the gadget. All that stuff is potentially patentable.
But I would probably have a bunch of ideas on how to market or sell my idea. (If I could only borrow $100,000,000, I could get the naming rights to the stadium!) I might have a brand name in mind (Trademark). I might have written a booklet about getting rid of spiders (Copyright). I might know just the right guy with contacts in the right country where I could get the gadget built. (Trade Secret).
So work on that inventory. Make sure you know what you possess before you even start writing that NDA.
Now consider, why do you need an NDA? What are you going to reveal to the other party? Or more importantly, what do you need to reveal to the other party?
Do you trust the other party? If you don’t trust, then stop the negotiation before it starts. Trust, of course is a matter of degree, but if you start by thinking that the other guy is trying to screw you over, it will be a long, frustrating negotiation. Keep in mind, a non-disclosure agreement is a contract; and there is an army of lawyers out there arguing that someone violated a contract. So the best an NDA can do, is make it painful for the other party to violate your confidence; the NDA can not guarantee their behavior.
Also think about what the other guy has for you. If I go to a spider eradicator builder and ask for a quote for my new gadget, I’m asking him for information too. So it is common for NDA’s to be bi-directional.