As agile software developers providing outsourcing services we are frequently asked to sign different NDAs and MNDAs. After over two years and dozens of NDAs I noticed a certain pattern which I will call “The Law of NDAs”.

It goes like this:

“The originality and value of the idea protected by an NDA is inversely proportional to said NDA’s length, penalties involved and insistence on signing it.”

In other words, on average, the more harsh and menacing the NDA is the less original and innovative the idea supposedly protected by it turns out to be.

Interestingly, not only average NDAs and ideas fall under this law, but also do extreme cases. For example, I remember one guy who had a 7 (seven) page long NDA to protect his revolutionary idea that turned out to be yet another social network (which, as far as I know, didn’t in the end see the light of day). Conversely, we had a group of high-profile European entrepreneurs who shared with us their truly revolutionary idea (related to multimedia) without even asking us to sign anything.

One may wonder why it is so, but for now I’m satisfied with having observed the pattern. Has anyone else noticed it?