How does a bi-directional NDA typically protect ideas you yourself had prior to signing the NDA, that are now at risk from information the other party is divulging?
A couple add-on points.
Insist on a bi-directional NDA. That protects both of you (and it can keep the would-be employer from doing things like telling a competitor of yours how much you charge).
Example: I have a game idea involving x,y, and z. I sign a NDA for unrelated contracting work on Big Company's game. After signing the NDA, Big Company tells me their game involves x,y, and z. Now I can no longer use x,y, and z, despite coming up with the idea independent of their revelations, right? How does a bi-directional NDA typically protect both parties from independent and unforeseen conflicts in the information revealed?
The problem with a NDA is, that it is only a one-way contract. It protects the right of them, but it will hinder my future decisions. If I sign a NDA and got information about an idea I got myself, I will be hindered to use this idea in future projects. Signing many NDAs would be like killing off most of my creative decisions, even worse if I do not really know if any of the last X projects I worked on used this idea or not.
Therefore I would never sign a NDA for smaller projects or indie teams.
Do NDAs typically have an 'expiration date'?
The only NDA-like thing I've ever received was the following (by email):
I ___________ , acknowledge that the information I am agreeing to receive is "CONFIDENTIAL".
I ___________ , acknowlege that any information presented regarding the said topic, before or in
the future, is "NOT FOR DISSEMINATION", or to be used COMPETITIVELY.
I ___________ , understand the I am released from this agreement in 6 months ________, today's date.
It wasn't very professional, since the person sent me the information in question (both in email files, and discussing it at length via the phone) prior to having me fill it out.
I filled it out via email and sent it back, figuring it couldn't harm me since it had an expiration date anyway, and I knew it was unrelated to my own business plans.
I modified it before sending it back. My modified version ran thusly:
I acknowledge that the <project>-related information I am agreeing to receive is confidential, and not for dissemination.
I acknowledge that any information presented regarding the topic of <project's general idea> and the monetizing of <project's general idea more specificly> is the property of <person I was discussing with>,
and I agree not to share the information without his permission, or use the information for competitive purposes.
I agree to not disclose the information contained within the package I am receiving, nor to make any use of it in any way without <person>'s permission.
I understand I am released from this agreement in 6 months from Thursday, March 13th, 2011, which is today's day.
In what ways can someone signing NDAs protect themselves from unforeseen sideeffects to their own projects?