Confidentiality laws protect your ideas and trade secrets provided you take appropriate steps to safeguard the secrecy of the information.
Trade secrets, know-how and other confidential information often form a significant element of patents, and appropriate rights are granted over them when licensing patents. Know-how will be continually enhanced and refined as you use a technology, so could become an even more valuable asset than the patent itself.
How to protect confidential information
Protection of know how needs thought. The business should adopt policies and implement procedures to ensure only personnel who need to know a confidential piece of information have access to it.
It is often appropriate to put in place contractual terms so that staff, and freelancers with access to your know how and trade secrets maintain its confidentiality and do not take unfair advantage once they leave your employment.
Because know how can only be protected through confidentiality, it is crucial to put others on notice that the information in question is confidential before disclosing it to them. The contractual obligation to maintain secrecy is necessary so that you have a legal right to sue them if they disclose or are about to disclose your valuable trade secrets.
Care needs to be taken when deciding whether to reveal information. Better to prevent a problem by not revealing your confidential information to the wrong person, than to have to take legal steps against the unscrupulous.
If the information is valuable make sure you are using an appropriate non disclosure (confidentiality) agreement, as there are many issues that such agreements ought to address. Otherwise, you may find that you have no recourse against someone who misuses your information.
A shorter document may be more user friendly but will be full of
dangerous loopholes for all parties if too much is left
unspecified, while a longer one bristling with restrictive
clauses and legal jargon may scare people off and be inappropriate in certain contexts.
If you need legal work please call us on +44 (0)20 7700 1414 or if you prefer send us an enquiry using the form below. Depending on your requirements we may suggest a free meeting. This is often the best way to assess whether we would be the right firm for you, and to understand the work involved, your priorities, attitude to risk, and desired timescales.