Network readers often ask how to protect an invention while presenting it to manufacturers. The author of our first question asks about that, too, but first: where does he find those companies he has to protect himself from?

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Sugar Daddy
My company has developed a new product for the PC market. Much as we'd love to, we lack the resources and experience to market the product nationally. So we intend to license it to a large company. How do we go about that? Is there a resource we could use to find potential buyers? And how do we protect our idea when no big company wants to sign a nondisclosure agreement?

J. Michael Crawford


Solo Computer Systems

Clinton, N.J.

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Hot Coffee
In October 1990 I began publishing Roadside, a quarterly newspaper devoted to the American diner. It has become a full-time job -- 42,000 copies are distributed free to diners and by subscription, and the paper had slightly less than $30,000 in advertising revenues last year. Most of our advertising comes from diners. I'd like to begin attracting larger regional and even national advertisers. How do I appeal to them? And will that further my real ambition -- to save the crown jewels of the American roadside?

Randolph Garbin


Coffee Cup Publications

Watertown, Mass.

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Return of the Living Deadbeat
I did some independent consulting for a merchant bank a year and a half ago. When it subsequently closed its doors, it paid all its employees and officers, but it didn't pay me. I won a decision against it in small-claims court. (Its representatives didn't show up.) At that time the company hadn't filed for bankruptcy protection, but the judge said I probably wouldn't collect until the partners resurfaced.

Recently I called the old phone number, and someone answered with the old company's name. How do I determine whether these are the same people who stiffed me for $3,000, and how do I get paid?

Name Withheld