This happens all the time … everyone thinks they have an idea so unique … “there’s nothing like it on the market” … we hear it all the time. No one is in the business to steal your idea, and no offense, but you’re idea is probably not really as unique as you think it is.
Regarding NDA’s, I simply don’t sign them. Non-Disclosure is part of my contract and should be presumed, otherwise I would not be in business.
Second issue is as development chemists we see all sorts of new product ideas, but they are generally variations on a theme … this or that in a Shampoo as opposed to that or this … variations on ingredients, but at the end of the day, still a Shampoo. So, there is virtually nothing that you could have thought of that is so unique regarding a Shampoo formulation that I cannot prove that I had prior knowledge of, except for some specific ingredient deck. So, the NDA really does not protect you the way you think it may since very little, if any, of the information you are going to provide to me is actually confidential, except for a specific ingredient deck.
For a contract to be legally binding, each party must receive some sort of consideration. If I sign an NDA with you, but we never actually execute a development contract, now I have an NDA in place with a party who never actually became a client and who did not to pay me any consideration. And, all those NDA’s with people who never actually became clients may be in various legal jurisdictions, unless I specifically specify my home district as the legal jurisdiction. And, since I did not receive any consideration, the contract is not really legally binding.
So, signing an NDA with a potential client, just for them to tell you their idea is something I simply do not do. I hope this gives you some insight into the real value of an NDA … it’s virtually worthless as a form of legal protection.
Same with patents in the cosmetics arena. Any chemist worth their salt can work around a patent in a heartbeat.