I meet a lot of creative and entrepreneurial folks. Many people come to me with the same question:
“I’ve got this great idea that I want to turn into a [book, product, business] and I need help with it. But I’m worried that if I tell anyone about it, they’ll steal the idea from me. It’ll end up getting [published, made, built] by someone else. What can I do?”
How to share your idea and protect it at the same time is a common problem.
There is a legal document known as a Non-Disclosure Agreement that you can ask someone to sign before you share your idea with them. In that contract, they agree to keep your idea a secret, not share it, or use it.
This Non-Disclosure Agreement form (click to download) can be used to protect your valuable ideas and trade secrets.
Once signed, it is a contract between two people, or companies, who want to explore the possibility of doing business together and need to share secret or sensitive information with the other without fear that the other will use the idea or information being shared.
The problem with NDAs is that many folks won’t even consider signing them (too full of legalese), especially if you’re asking for their help for free.
If you are hiring someone to help you, an editor, a graphic designer or a vendor for example, they would probably agree to non-disclosure of your idea. Those are the kind of people you can generally trust not to take your idea in the first place. It would damage their professional reputation if they were accused of stealing someone else’s ideas.
Know Who You Are Working With
In the early stages of a creative or business idea, if the person or company you’re dealing with will not sign a non-disclosure agreement and you still want to share with them, the key is to make sure that the people you are asking for help are trustworthy. I know that’s a hard thing to determine, but most relationships are based on trust.
So, build a relationship before you share your ideas. Know who you are working with. Trust can be stronger than a contract.
Feel free to download and customize this form to fit the needs of your particular situation.
This form is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice for you specifically.
For continuing access to useful, actionable and affordable legal information for creative professionals, be sure to sign up for the Rip-Off Protection Report for Creative Professionals.
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