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I have a new website product which I'm beginning to demo. I have the opportunity to demo to a relatively large potential client. I've found out (from the individual) that they already have a similar product that they previously tried to monetize but would like to look at mine and are interested in switching over to my platform instead given its price point.

There's a natural reluctance since this potential client already has invested time and money into their own platform and has shown that they have tried to monetize it. Most of what I would demo could be completely viable for their own platform.

My first inclination is to ask for an NDA prior to the demo, however, as I've read and would have suspected, that's off putting so early on in the relationship. I've already read that an NDA, from the perspective of a small company like my own, is not very useful against a large company with resources.

So, does this situation warrant an NDA or is there another mechanism to protect my IP and ease my concern that I'm not thinking of?

  • Welcome here. It's a delicate question. But the answer is more related to legal and marketing than to software engineering. So it's out of scope here. I'm not a lawyer so I can't tell for sure. But ideas appear not to be protectable. Only the expression of ideas is. IMHO, a NDA with a company might not prevent them to use your ideas for their own product (especially if they already have one). It just prevents them to disclose the ideas to other companies and third parties. – Christophe Feb 18 at 7:56
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As long as your demo does not involve giving your source code to others or installing your software on computers that you don't control, you don't have to fear about people copying your code.

For user-visible stuff, like the (visual) design of your application and the features you demonstrate, you have to consider how much work it would be to replicate those without having knowledge of the underlying implementation. Most likely, it will take a potential competitor just as much time to implement as it took you.

In short, I don't believe an NDA is going to be of value. It will be far more effective if you use only computers under your control for the demo and take those with you afterward.

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