I just had an idea. I think it might be good under many circumstances to have a signed, binding non-disclosure agreement. But, here's another thought: I've got a couple good quality digital audio recorders. I can record several hours of conversation on one, then burn it to CD or safe it on my hard drive. What's to say I couldn't bring one along while I had a lunch meeting with someone. I simply ask if it's okay that I keep a record of our conversation. Then I have a permanent record of what's been discussed, and what's been disclosed. Not that I ever wish to enter into a patent dispute in court. It's like locking your car doors. It won't stop a determined thief, but it'll sure slow down an opportunist.
What I'm doing is quite different from what's been done (so far as I can tell). I can't be certain that any of my various ideas is necessarily going to work out as is... but I'm fairly certain that they've never been tried. Something will work. Of that I'm pretty sure. And what will work will proffer a great improvement over what's currently available. Hence my confidence at this point. I realize however that many of these ideas while untried, could easily be adopted by existing firms, especially ones with a horde of employees. In many cases, they wouldn't be tried out, simply because they're coming from a different angle. But all it takes is one group to follow through on the ideas, and I'm out work.
I'm quite aware, however, that doing it all on my own would be foolish. I need to put together my own team. The only way that's possible is if I share some of my ideas with people before they sign on to join me. If I had the money to simply hire a few people for a couple years, that's what I'd do, and I'd have them all sign non-disclosure agreements saying they won't enter into competition with my firm for whatever length of time seems reasonable (what, 3 years or something). I'd love to find a few partners for this venture, people whose expertise complements my own, whose passion drives them to this work, and whose circumstance and commitment (like my own) permits them to sign on for a share of the company's profits rather than an immediate salary.
But I can't count on it. Protect your ideas. The mantra has lodged itself in my mind. Recording conversations. I suppose some people might object. No reason I can't promise to make them a copy of the record. But if they still object, I'm probably safer not sharing too many ideas.