Product Scouting: Because of our activities as product scouts, we are
often asked if our client companies sign non-disclosures.
The first question our clients ask is: Will It Sell????
Our clients sometimes ask their sales reps if they think they can sell the
product. The sales rep often wants to ask a store buyer if he would buy the
product if he had it to sell (remember that the important person is the store
buyer, not the end user). This is a very important way for our clients to
determine if the product is right for their company.
This means that non-disclosures quickly become unwieldy. Clients do
occasionally sign non-disclosures but you need to recognize it is in
your best interest to protect your product yourself. Your responsibility is to
understand inventor notebooks, patent searches, patentability opinions,
provisional patents, what "patent pending" actually means and what
your timeline for development is.
Client companies are interested in the business opportunity your product
represents. Having information
about the market your product will sell in, its manufacturability, potential
selling price, etc. is likely to increase your licensing royalty.
Industries and clients vary so there are no set rules about the use of
non-disclosures. Our clients enter product discussions at different points of
development (an issued patent is not often a requirement). But it is our policy
- as well as the policy of many of our clients - to not sign non-disclosures
unless there is a compelling business reason to do so.
Consulting: For inventors who wish to hire us as consultants, we will
sign a non-disclosure once we determine a non-disclosure is necessary to
protect us and the inventor. Because our focus is on commercializing the
product, we often are able to conduct the consultation without knowledge of
your proprietary information.