I came across this post by Alexander Muse the other day telling a sorry tale. It would seem that someone contacted Alexander looking for advice and asking for an NDA. Alexander stated that he was too busy to partner but the other party kept trying. It soon became evident that the other party was in fact attempting to bait Alexander into encouraging an IP disclosure and then seeking legal redress – lovely patent trolling behaviour.
It even went so far that Alexander received solicitors letters trying to coerce him into partnering with the client or risk an infringement action. Not surprisingly Alexander posted about the experience, including the name of the third party thereby ensuring Google crucifixion – as I write a search for the persons name on Google has his post in the top five results.
Two issues here – trust and death by Google
I have weekly emails from people with new products or services that are very much in stealth mode. I have never yet signed an NDA with any of them and similarly I have never yet disclosed their information either publicly or privately. I hold the sanctity of the FrieNDA to be absolutely sacrosanct, to the point of giving it more respect than a fully blown legally binding traditional NDA.
To my knowledge I have signed NDAs on two occasions and both of them left something of a bad taste in my mouth – this is even more marked when the other party is looking for a partnership. What foundation for a trusting partnership is created with the demanding of an NDA.
For what it’s worth my attitude towards FrieNDAs is the same as my attitude towards embargoes; I respect the trust another party shows in me and I won’t betray that trust – pure and simple.
Death by Google
Was Alexander out of line. In this day and age a Google search is a routine piece of intel gathering. In one fell swoop Alexander has sullied this woman’s name for the foreseeable future.
But did he have any choice? She’s already trolled him on several occasions, had set her lawyers onto him and had ignored his offering of a FrieNDA – by that stage it had become personal and, rather than seeing it as a case of Alexander crucifying her, we can regard it very much as a case of self-crucifixion.
You’ll notice I haven’t written the name of the guilty party here – Alexander was justified in outing her, I don’t have that luxury. The one thing I will say is that respect and trust are the most valuable of resources – don’t waste them.