Patents vs. Non-Disclosure Agreements - What Gives You More Protection
If you think your idea is protected because you've signed non-disclosure agreement (also known as an NDA or confidentiality agreement), then you are sadly mistaken.
While an NDA gives you a limited level of protection (which in many cases can easily be bypassed), a patent offers you rock-solid, legally binding, enforceable-by-stiff-penalties PROOF of idea ownership.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. In this article you'll learn the differences between patents and NDA's, you'll see:
- Why NDA's are only binding if there is a paper trail
- The only time you can trust the security of an NDA
- What legal differences exist between patents and NDA's
- How to get patent protection for as little as $110
Let's get started.
What is a Patent
A patent is a piece of paper. Not very impressive sounding, I know. But this piece of paper could be as important to you as the Declaration of Independence was to the birth of this country.
Patents represent rock-solid proof of ownership of an idea. And this is important because an idea is intangible. It's not something you can feel or touch. You can't keep an idea secure by locking it in a safe like you could a gold watch or $100,000 dollars.
Patents are fairly easy to apply for. Just go to www.uspto.gov. Fill out the patent application. And pay your $110. That's it.
Now this doesn't mean your patent will get approved, and there are many pitfalls to avoid when writing a patent...too many to list here. Let's just say you wouldn't hire any bum off the street to defend you in a murder case. You'd hire an experienced attorney. You should consider the same when getting your idea patented.
Anyway, back to our discussion. There are only two ways a court of law recognizes ownership of an idea. The Patent is one way. An NDA is another. But an NDA is nowhere near as powerful as a patent. Here's why.
Why a Patent Protects You More than an NDA
Whereas a patent is a federal document proving ownership of an idea, an NDA is simply a contract between two people. Which one do you think holds more weight a court of law? A patent, of course.
You should know that an NDA can provide you with a level of protection. In fact, if someone signs an NDA with you and then breaches that contract, you have all the right in the world to sue them (and you'll probably even win). However, that's where the buck stops.
An example. Let's say you have developed a new widget to manufacture. You go to Dishonest Dan, a widget manufacturer and have him sign an NDA before you reveal your big idea. After spilling the beans to Dishonest Dan he decides to cut you out of the action and manufacture your widget himself.
Bad move Dan. You have a very solid case if you sue him.
But let's say Dishonest Dan is a little smarter than that and he tells his brother, Scheming Sam about your idea. Well if Sam manufacturers your widget there is basically nothing you can do. Why? Because there is no paper trail between you and Sam. There is only a paper trail between you and Dan.
You see NDA's only recognize the signatures on the contract. Patents provide proof that you own the idea entirely. HUGE difference. Remember this...
Patents are the ONLY way to guarantee your idea is protected!
If you need help patenting an idea, then we've prepared a short package to guide you through the process. It's absolutely free for inventors who need to get their idea protected. If you'd like a free copy simply contact us at 1-866-New-Ideas (1-866-433-2288) and we'll send you one by email or snail mail. Or if you're in the South Florida area stop by our Coral Springs office at 11575 Heron Bay Blvd suite 300.