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A Question about a NDA

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Hello, we want to present our project to publishers next week and we need an NDA to ensure that our ideas and techdemo are protected. That''s why we need a NDA. We need to know how it has to look like and what paragraphs should be included. Your help is very welcome! Kind regards, Squarefox http://www.harbinger-entertainment.de

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If you want it to be of any real use, get a lawyer. That''s the best advice I can give you.

Nice looking game, btw. Good luck with the pitch.

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Many publishers will expect you to sign their NDA (they wont go to the bother of having their legal team review every developers NDA when they can just send their own standard one instead). So you need to contact the publishers first to find out if they will sign yours and/or to ask them to send you theirs.

As for what to include.... you need a lawyer for that.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions
Game Development & Design consultant

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Something to add to the good advice already given:

You making your own contract is totally useless unless you have the resources (i.e. money) to enforce it.

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There are plenty of template NDA's available on business sites all over the internet. You will probably have to tailor it to suit your interactive product's needs.

The previous posters are right to an extent, but, you can put together a pretty solid NDA without a laywer if you can't afford one or don't know one. The way I did it was to download all the templates I could find, compared them, stitched them together and refined and rewrote it over a period of time.

I then got lucky and was able to obtain from an entertainment lawyer a copy of a major talent agency's NDA, and integrated that into the refined one I already had.

Over time, I kept looking for more and more data on these documents, and talked with free lawyer advice websites here and there on the more complex and confusing clauses, and eventually came up with one that I am happy with.

It should also be said that money to pay a lawyer is not always the condition upon which a lawyer gets engaged on your issue advocation process. Allthough all lawyers have relatively expensive hourly rates, they will also work on a contingency basis for a percentage of what damages they can get a court to award, or that the other party is willing to negotiate to settlement. Vast amounts of attorneys prefer this, a, becuase they make more, and b, not everyone can afford to pay retainers up front, and they know it and still want to make money.

The things that are working for you here are that: a, a lawyer usually never takes a case they can't win, and b, providing them with the evidence they need in advance of a potential tort showing them they will win if they need to get engaged in the matter shows them you are a smart and prudent professional, just the type they like to have in their rolodex, and c, you've made it impossibly easy for them to say, "ok, I recognize the validity of your claim of authorship here based on the reasonably conclusive proof you have provided for me here today."

Since you are presenting your product to publishers next week, I am surprised they are not making you sign their NDA first, as they do in the filmmaking business, at least at the studio I deal with.

You can also approach a lawyer with an offer of payment conditionally based on whether you get the game sold to the publisher, and somebody may be able to do a rush job for you. However, lawyers are not in the habit of rushing anything unless they have to, and there is a good reason for that, one you should learn from.

It's about preparation. You are in sort of a legal 'crunch time'. If you are going to stay in this business, have you business act together, and build the documenatation base that supports you game business, as any prudent and professional game business entrepreneur has an obligation to do, if they don't want to get taken.

One of the things you can do in the immediate term is to call a lawyer, or, if you don't know one, call some business professional you trust and have them recommend one to you. Call that lawyer and ask if they are experienced in Intellectual Property matters. If they say yes, you are lucky, if they say no, then ask them if they can refer you to one and then tell them why.

The reason why is that you are going to do a quick and dirty, yet enforceable form of intellectual property protection known as "living copyright."

What this is, is that you talk to a lawyer you trust, and tell them, show them, and provide supplementary documentation (this is stuff you can do right of you DC burner and printer in no time at all) to them if they can take an immediate meeting, or courier or deliver it to them if they can't, and make an attorney who has the ability to sue a living witness to your sole and original authorship of the intellectual property in question *before* you see the publisher, so that at least a record is created in the lawyer's mind, if not on paper, that you are the original creator and copyright holder of the game data in question.

This way, if there is a problem with your intellectual property rights being violated, you have an attorney that is preinformed who can then become engaged for legal services that he knows he can get paid on because he knows he can win the case because he himself is the primary piece of evidence that your rights have been violated and you are due compensation.

If you are diligent and informative, you could probably have this done to the courier or meeting set up stage by noon on monday if you get up and start using the phone at the start of the business day.

Good luck. And remember the boy scout motto next time: be prepared. Also, to obey the law, I am going to tell you that I am not rendering legal advice here, and that you should consult a licensed and qualified attorney for your legal needs.


[edited by - adventuredesign on August 17, 2003 9:29:00 PM]

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