FAQ

Basics of the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement

Yes.  You still have a responsibility to protect your IP for anything that goes outside of the Ethical Collaboration Community.

For trade secrets and other confidential information, the best way to protect your IP is to not tell anyone.  Keep it locked up and don’t tell anyone.  Even if you are in a Certified Ethical Collaboration coworking environment, you should be careful to avoid leaving confidential papers around or even having confidential information on your screen when you walk away from your desk.  This is just common sense.

Some information may be protected by patents, trademarks, or copyrights, and you can learn more about those items at our partner non-profit, http://ipeducation.patenteducation.org.

Category: Basics

No.  Under the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement, you are not obligated to share anything with anybody, and nobody is getting any rights to your intellectual property.  That is, unless you *choose* to share your ideas.

Nobody is required to do anything under the Agreement.

If you have a competitor at a mastermind meeting, for example, and both of you have signed the Agreement, should you be sharing information?  Probably not.  You might be willing to talk about generic problems and solutions, but you may wisely choose not to share anything that might be proprietary or competitive.

Why can’t you trust the other person?  That really isn’t the issue.  They might be perfectly trustworthy, but once they are exposed to your competitive information, that cannot be undone.

When you go through the Ethical Collaboration Certification course (which is free), you will be more aware of what you should protect and what might not be that important.  The point of the course is to make you aware of the tradeoffs of disclosing your information, so that you will be a better entrepreneur.

Category: Basics

Open Source is a great way to share your hobbies and other contributions.  Many businesses use Open Source products and many people like to contribute to Open Source projects.

Signing the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement or some other NDA may not directly affect you or your project, but it does protect other people in your community.  They might have a business need to protect their IP, like if they work for a company who has some product that they want to keep quiet before their launch.

You might not think there is a personal benefit from signing the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement because you want everything to be Open Source.  But you don’t want someone hearing about your project then running out to get a patent on your latest Open Source idea, do you?  The Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement protects you – even as an Open Source advocate – from people “helping” you then turning around and doing something bad.

Part of the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement is that ideas are transferred to the project owner on the project owner’s terms.  So if you get some help from someone else, you can be assured that you won’t have trouble as you commit your project to the public through Open Source.

Non-Disclosure Agreements are necessary because there are legal issues that occur without one.  For example, sharing your project without an NDA may cause you to lose your trade secret or patent rights.

Sadly, having a handshake agreement or “friend-D-A” does not solve the problem, either.

There is a domino effect with NDAs.  Virtually all NDAs require that something be kept secret *unless* the person makes the information public.  We don’t want someone to trigger that domino effect by inadvertently sharing their information with someone else.

You can learn more from this topic taken from the (free) Ethical Collaboration Certification training: http://ethicalcollaboration.13.84.174.210.xip.io/topic/friend-d-hurt/.

The Non-Disclosure Agreement portion of the Ethical Collaboration Agreement is a conventional, low-level NDA.

The NDA portion is designed for casual conversations that might occur over a cup of coffee, in a mastermind meeting, between colleagues in a coworking space, or in a makerspace between two craftsmen working on their projects.

The NDA ensures that everybody respects each other’s intellectual property and that sharing your project does not trigger any type of unintended consequences, such as losing patent rights.

As a community, we want the entrepreneurs to have full rights to their ideas and to make sure they do not lose their rights by accident.

The Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement has three parts:

  1. A low-level Non-Disclosure Agreement designed for casual interactions and collaboration.
  2. An intellectual property transfer agreement that ensures that when we help someone, we do so without strings.
  3. A mediation and arbitration provision that ensures disputes are handled quickly and inexpensively.

Yes.  We use DocuSign for capturing and authenticating electronic signatures.  These are legally binding in all US states and many countries of the world.

Zero.  Nothing.

The Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement is free to everyone.  If you would like to become Certified, there is a nominal charge, but anyone can sign the Agreement and be a community member.

The Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement helps you in several ways:

  1. The Agreement protects you from inadvertent loss of your intellectual property.  “Loose lips sink ships” – but not when everyone in the room has signed the Agreement.
  2. The Agreement allows you to give – and receive – help and advice in a collaborative way.  Everybody who signs the agreement agrees to give advice and help without strings.
  3. If there are any problems that occur between members, we all agree to use mediation and arbitration – not lawyers – to settle any problems.

You are not obligated or restricted by the Agreement.  You are free to collaborate – or not – as you see fit.

Yes!  You are free to send your members to http://ethicalcollaboration.13.84.174.210.xip.io/ethical-collaboration-community-agreement/. If you would like to do a bulk email invite to all of your members, please email russ.krajec@ethicalcollaboration.org with the details and we will be happy to assist you.

Category: Basics

Yes!  If you have a potential friend/mentor/advisor/service provider or anyone else with whom you would like to collaborate, just ask them to sign the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement.  Send them to http://ethicalcollaboration.13.84.174.210.xip.io/ethical-collaboration-community-agreement.

There is no charge to have anyone sign the agreement.

Category: Basics

Yes!  The Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement is free for everyone.  This agreement is the basic, fundamental agreement for any collaborative environment, including coworking spaces, makerspaces, hackerspaces, mastermind groups, as well as incubators and accelerators.  The Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement is also used by meetup groups, libraries, and other informal groups.

Category: Basics

Details of the Agreement

The IP Transfer portion of the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement works this way:

Any time someone helps you with your project, they transfer the rights to their contribution to you.  This ONLY occurs when they do not have any project related to yours.

For example, let’s say I work for a company doing cyber security and you are working on something related to online security.  If I help you with your project, I probably have a preexisting obligation that all my ideas are owned by my company, so I do NOT transfer my suggestion to you.

However, if you are working on a drone project and I give you a great idea, that idea is yours to do with as you please.  If you want to make it Open Source, you are free to do so.  If you want to get a patent on it, you can do that, too.

If you get a patent on an idea that I help you with, I agree to sign all of the patent documents and officially transfer the ownership of the idea to you.  The Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement puts a value on that transaction of $100, so that I will sign the paperwork and you will pay me $100.

If there are any problems with who “owns” the idea, the Agreement let’s us settle any issue with mediation or arbitration.  If we disagree, such as if I won’t sign your paperwork, you can resolve this kind of thing quickly and easily.

Open Source is a great way to share your hobbies and other contributions.  Many businesses use Open Source products and many people like to contribute to Open Source projects.

Signing the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement or some other NDA may not directly affect you or your project, but it does protect other people in your community.  They might have a business need to protect their IP, like if they work for a company who has some product that they want to keep quiet before their launch.

You might not think there is a personal benefit from signing the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement because you want everything to be Open Source.  But you don’t want someone hearing about your project then running out to get a patent on your latest Open Source idea, do you?  The Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement protects you – even as an Open Source advocate – from people “helping” you then turning around and doing something bad.

Part of the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement is that ideas are transferred to the project owner on the project owner’s terms.  So if you get some help from someone else, you can be assured that you won’t have trouble as you commit your project to the public through Open Source.

Non-Disclosure Agreements are necessary because there are legal issues that occur without one.  For example, sharing your project without an NDA may cause you to lose your trade secret or patent rights.

Sadly, having a handshake agreement or “friend-D-A” does not solve the problem, either.

There is a domino effect with NDAs.  Virtually all NDAs require that something be kept secret *unless* the person makes the information public.  We don’t want someone to trigger that domino effect by inadvertently sharing their information with someone else.

You can learn more from this topic taken from the (free) Ethical Collaboration Certification training: http://ethicalcollaboration.13.84.174.210.xip.io/topic/friend-d-hurt/.

The Non-Disclosure Agreement portion of the Ethical Collaboration Agreement is a conventional, low-level NDA.

The NDA portion is designed for casual conversations that might occur over a cup of coffee, in a mastermind meeting, between colleagues in a coworking space, or in a makerspace between two craftsmen working on their projects.

The NDA ensures that everybody respects each other’s intellectual property and that sharing your project does not trigger any type of unintended consequences, such as losing patent rights.

As a community, we want the entrepreneurs to have full rights to their ideas and to make sure they do not lose their rights by accident.

The Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement has three parts:

  1. A low-level Non-Disclosure Agreement designed for casual interactions and collaboration.
  2. An intellectual property transfer agreement that ensures that when we help someone, we do so without strings.
  3. A mediation and arbitration provision that ensures disputes are handled quickly and inexpensively.

FAQ For Inventors and Entrepreneurs

No.  Normal Non-Disclosure Agreements have their purpose, but fail in one important feature:

There is no IP transfer element.

Take an example of an entrepreneur who has a supplier sign an NDA.  The entrepreneur got a patent before he went to the supplier, so he was doubly protected.  However, as the supplier started working on the project, the supplier’s engineer came up with a couple suggestions that improved the manufacturing.  When the entrepreneur went to get a patent on the improvement, he was stuck.  The inventor on the improvement was the supplier’s engineer.  Legally, the supplier’s work product might be considered a “work for hire,” but because of the lack of an IP transfer agreement, the ownership of the improvement might still lie with the supplier.

The inventor didn’t own the improvement that the supplier suggested.

The Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement would have prevented this situation from occurring.  And, no, a normal NDA is not good enough.

Yes.  Typically, the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement is used for informal mentorship or advising, and it was designed with that in mind.

As a community, we want people to seek help wherever they can find it, and we want to encourage that dialog wherever we can.

If you are an entrepreneur who has already signed the Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement, you can send a potential advisor or mentor to http://ethicalcollaboration.13.84.174.210.xip.io/ethical-collaboration-community-agreement/ and they can quickly sign up.

As you and your advisor develop a strong relationship, you may want to formalize that relationship with a more appropriate agreement.  For example, advisors or mentors may commit to being available for a certain number of hours in exchange for stock in a company or as part of an advisory board.  As your relationship becomes more indepth and involved, you may consider an additional agreement.

FAQ For Advisors and Mentors

The Ethical Collaboration Certification gives mentors and advisors a stamp of trustworthiness and assurance.  The Certification assures your potential business relationships that you will respect their intellectual property.

The Ethical Collaboration Community Agreement serves as an easy agreement where you can begin mentoring and advising a company.  As things grow and you want to formalize the relationship, a formal advisor or mentor agreement may be more appropriate.

For service providers, the Ethical Collaboration Certification means that you are approachable and trustworthy.  Your Certification shows that you have been trained on IP matters and that you take these matters seriously.

This can apply to companies who have proprietary trade secrets, as well as companies who have Open Source projects.

FAQ For Service Providers

FAQ For Group Leaders