I'm in the midst of conducting research on starting up a small consulting/services business. Some of the services provided would involve developing proprietary algorithms. I would like to avoid potential legal issues regarding intellectual property of algorithms.
I'm assuming that if I am presented with two nearly-identical candidates, the risk of legal action associated with hiring the one with more previous NDAs would be higher than the risk of hiring the candidate with less.
Given this assumption, I would like to inquire during interviews about any previous NDAs relating to proprietary algorithms. However, this seems as it may be a legal grey area.
Am I allowed to ask about NDAs in an interview? If so, to what degree? Furthermore, does asking about NDAs during an interview put me at risk of being accused of trying to poach intellectual property if I were to hire a candidate who had signed one or more NDAs?
I know this is asking two questions in one post, but I think the two questions are closely inter-related. My decision whether to inquire during an interview will most likely be based on some risk-benefit trade-off.
I plan on doing business in Ontario, Canada (at least for now) if that helps narrow the question down. I did have a look around on the internet and in a few books, but I was unable to find any substantive answer pushing me in either direction. I am considering going to a lawyer to ask, but I would like to keep preliminary costs down as much as possible.
Thank you for your time and attention.