What's new
What's new

Inventor wants to help us on his jobs in shop+sign NDA


Jun 25, 2016
A PHD inventor wants to participate as we do his job (prototype.) I don’t have much problem but he insists on a non-disc. Agreement. I don’t have issue there either but his version is many pages of convoluted legalese no one can understand. I’ll offer to sign a simple one-pager I found on web, after we execute some kind of contract.

I’m looking for suggestions on how to structure/price our services where he’s here “helping.” I’m thinking the hourly charge should be based on the time he’s in the shop plus our hours when he’s not and we’re working for him, since he’ll be our primary customer and we’ll be paying all our attention to him when he’s here. I’ve also thought about just having him pay our rent or rent plus since he’ll be our primary work ($7k:mo.)

Comments? Anyone have past contract copies they’d share for a similar situation?
Sounds sketchy to me. I think you're on the right track to be wary of a convulted NDA. KISS.

Having your main customer "helping" sounds complicated. If he's all talk and no walk you might go backwards when he's helping, even if you charge your normal rate. Only you can make that call, and by then it may be too late to get him out without hurting his feelings. We've had customers that just wanted to hang out and bullshit. I mean we are fun guys and since they threw work our way they thought we owed them a hangout place. A little of that is well and good but soon it is too much. And it is awkward to make it stop. Especially if he is your main customer.
I've had customers hang out/help. The first time I was mid 20's and it didn't go well. I didn't have the confidence to tell the guy he was distracting and getting in the way. It definitely cost me extra days working on his shit.

A few years ago I had a customer fly in and stay for a few weeks for the culmination of his project. He was up front that he understood he might be distracting or get in the way and I could tell him to get out at any time. Turned out he was a hell of a cool guy. We got along great. He was in the shop almost the whole time and even with a few hiccups everything was finished on time.

I think I would just have it in writing that he needs to leave for the day if you ask him to, no questions. If he's getting in the way point at the door.
Simple 1 page NDA for sure, explain it to him in person. "We often sign NDA agreements, but X is usually all that is required".

Carry yourself like you have something he wants, not the other way around.

Charge standard shop rate. Even on a normal day - If you have a machine roughing something out while you go grab lunch, that time is still charged to the job right?

There are two types of people who want to "be involved".
1.) The guy who wants to use your equipment and his labor to haggle over costs

2.) The guy who wants to learn about manufacturing intricacies and provide real time engineering support for a design in process. This guy usually does not care about the costs. He may have a PhD but he came to you because he needs what you can offer.

Do not ever let the 1st type in the door. The 2nd type is ok with well defined ground rules.
generally agree with the comments so far, but l'll just add...

1) do you have references or better yet others known and trusted by you, who have worked with this person?

2) is there a good reason to have this person on site, like complex small details that need consultation or discussion to resolve?

3) seriously ask your self why this guy cooked up a multi-page complex NDA?

4) litmus test, does he readily agree to a simple 1/2 page version?

cheers, and good luck!