You’ve been diligent about locking away your most sensitive documents in the filing cabinet each night, and encrypting all of your electronic files with passwords, but what about the information that is shared among employees on a daily basis?

Do you have a non-disclosure agreement in place? When do you need one? A non-disclosure agreement governs the relationship between you and any existing or potential business associates or employees. It is typically recommended that this type of agreement is used prior to entering into any negotiations, interviews or other situations in which confidential information or materials are exchanged.

The safeguards of a non-disclosure agreement

A non-disclosure agreement clearly defines conditions, between you and a business associate, for exchanging and using confidential information and materials. It also requires that parties involved keep sensitive information confidential, outlines resolutions for agreement violations, and calls for arbitration in the event a dispute regarding violations arises.

The non-disclosure agreement is essential for keeping information protected, and should be implemented anytime confidentiality is imperative. These agreements are most suitable in situations in which information sharing between two parties is necessary, but it needs to be kept confidential from the general public. The number of scenarios in which a non-disclosure agreement can serve as a vital tool, varies widely. One instance is when network solutions or software is provided, or intellectual property is shared. In this case there are specific non-disclosure contracts for IT consultants. For those working in the information technology field, these agreements are necessary for nearly any business relationship.

What should the agreement contain?

Generally, most non-disclosure agreements should include information about the parties involved, any clauses that might be incorporated, and what information should be kept confidential. If either party should break the agreement, legal actions can be taken. The purpose of the non-disclosure agreement, though, should be to avoid litigation. If both parties follow the non-disclosure agreement, things will run smoothly and the agreement will serve its purpose. Agreements, and provisions within the agreements, will vary based on the industry, the persons involved and the information that is to remain confidential. Non-disclosure contracts for IT consultants can differ significantly from agreements written for financial institutions. Some provisions might include:

  • Confidential Material
  • Use and Treatment of Confidential Material
  • Return of Confidential Material
  • Remedies
  • Employee Solicitation and/or Hiring
  • Arbitration and Attorneys' Fees
  • Severability
  • Waiver and Modification

To better understand what agreements should contain, review non-disclosure agreement samples. This will help you determine what you might need to include in your contract.

Before sharing information contained within unpublished patent applications, financial statements, or business strategies, you should be sure a non-disclosure agreement has been agreed upon and signed by all parties involved. This will provide legal safeguard on all confidential information and prevent others from stealing information. To ensure all of the vital components are included within the agreement, review as many non-disclosure agreement samples as you can, and utilize a non-disclosure agreement template produced by a credible company, then have a professional attorney review all of your documents. Taking these steps can save you time and protect you from potentially costly litigations.

Look online for resources

For many entrepreneurs new to navigating the world of small business ownership, paying for an attorney may be out of the question. Online resources are a cost effective and useful way to obtain knowledge on non-disclosure agreements. You can also utilize non-disclosure agreement templates to get your contract in place and be sure it meets industry standards.