What should be included in an intellectual property non-disclosure agreement?



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Question:

I have designed a new video game and I want to invite a friend who works for a big name game company over to my house to play a few games with me to help me work out some kinks in the program.  I want to protect my rights to the game in case she tells his co-workers about it and they try to duplicate it. What should I do?

Answer:

This is the perfect occasion to use an intellectual property non-disclosure agreement (NDA).  A non-disclosure agreement is a legal contract between you and your friend.  You agree to disclose your game to her for a specific purpose; she agrees to not disclose any information to anyone else.  Typically, a NDA also provides that the party receiving the information recognizes that it is confidential and proprietary; that the party receiving the information will not to utilize the information for his/her own benefit; and that all tangible materials embodying the information will be returned to the creator within a certain time.  Your friend can still be bound by the NDA even if you never produce, or obtain a patent or copyright, on your game.

There are many sample NDAs just an internet search away, and you may want to save money by drafting one yourself.  But, given the profitability of successful video games, you should strongly consider retaining in the services of an experienced intellectual property attorney now to protect your future interests.

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