Stop ‘sharing’ your important business information – the importance of non-disclosure agreements 停止“分享”您的重要商业信息 – 保密协议的重要性

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) are important to have in place, and failing to do so can result in dire consequences.

签署保密协议(NDA)非常重要,如果不这样做可能导致非常不良的后果。

In one such situation in the writer’s experience, a contractor used client information gained while working for a multi-national corporation (MNC) to compete against the MNC when his contract ended. The MNC suffered loss in revenue and market share, and had its reputation tarnished as some clients attributed mistakes made by the contractor to the MNC. When the MNC took the contractor to court in an attempt to recoup its losses, the contractor claimed he was not aware that client information was the MNC’s confidential information.  As there was no NDA in place, the court gave the contractor the benefit of doubt – and the MNC came away financially worse off: the MNC was unable to recover any compensation from the contractor, and spent legal fees in excess of $300,000 to stop the contractor from further misuse of its confidential information.

作者曾有过这种经历:有位承包商在工作结束后使用在跨国公司工作期间获得的客户信息与跨国公司争夺业务。跨国公司在收入和市场份额方面皆遭受损失,并且由于一些客户将承包商的错误归因于跨国公司,跨国公司的声誉也受损。当跨国公司为了挽回损失而将承包商告上法院时,承包商声称他不知道客户信息是跨国公司的机密信息。由于跨国公司没和承包商签署NDA,法院愿意相信承包商并非有意盗用机密信息 – 结果跨国公司陪了夫人又折兵:不只无法从承包商那里收回任何赔偿,还花费超过30万美元的法律费用来阻止承包商进一步滥用其机密信息。

How could the MNC have put itself in a better position?

跨国公司如何能够把自己置于更有利的位置?

 

THE PURPOSE OF AN NDA

NDA的目的

Any information that has value in being kept secret is confidential information and should be protected. Confidential information includes, but is not limited to, trade secrets, knowhow, business plans, business strategies, product pricing, product information, market information, client information, and even recipes – in fact any information which is unique to your business and contributes to its financial success.

任何有价值的信息都是机密信息,并应该受到保护。机密信息包括但不限于商业秘密,技术知识,商业计划,商业策略,产品定价,产品信息,市场信息,客户信息,甚至食谱/配方 – 实际上凡是您的业务所独有的,并有助于其财务成功的任何信息。

Although the best kept secret is an untold secret; it is unavoidable that an employee/contractor will have access in his/her daily work to an employer’s confidential information.

虽然保守秘密最好的方法是完全不透露此秘密,但雇员/承包商在他/她的日常工作中会接触到雇主的机密信息是不可避免的。

Commercial discussions with potential business partners will also often entail the disclosure of confidential information.

在与有可能会在业务上合作的伙伴进行商业讨论时也往往需要披露机密信息。

To prevent the loss of confidential information, a NDA – also known as a confidentiality agreement – should be signed between employers and employees/contractors, as well as before two parties enter into discussions that may disclose confidential information.

为防止机密信息的泄露,应在雇主和雇员/承包商之间,以及在双方进入可能披露机密信息的讨论之前签署NDA(也称为保密协议)。

Having an NDA in place will ensure that, if any secret/confidential information is disclosed in an unauthorised manner, the disclosing party has a legal right to take court action to stop the spread of the information, or failing that, at least to obtain compensation from the employee, contractor or third party who has shared the confidential information. In addition, having an employee/contractor or a receiving party sign an NDA has the psychological benefit of making it clear to the employee/contractor or third party that the information disclosed is confidential and must be protected.

签署NDA能确保如果任何秘密/机密信息以未经授权的方式泄露,披露方有法定权利要求法院采取行动阻止信息传播,或至少获得来自泄露机密信息的雇员,承包商或第三方的赔偿。此外,让雇员/承包商或接收方签署NDA也会有心理效益,让他门明确认知被披露的信息是机密信息,并且必须受到保护。

 

REQUISITE TERMS & CONDITIONS IN AN NDA

NDA必有的条款

An NDA should at a minimum:

NDA至少应该:

(a)  set out the purpose for which information is disclosed. The purpose will change depending on the circumstances, and should be tailored to suit each specific circumstance;

列出披露机密信息的目的。目的将根据具体情况而变化,并且应该适合每种特定情况;

(b) specify whether disclosure is mutual or unilateral. This is an important issue to consider as a unilateral NDA will only protect one party’s confidential information and if both parties are disclosing confidential information, one party’s information may be left unprotected;

具体说明披露是相互的还是单方面的。这是一个需要考虑的重要问题,因为单方面的保密协议只会保护其中一方的机密信息,而如果双方都披露机密信息,则有一方的信息可能不受保护;

(c) define carefully what the confidential information is. This may differ depending on the circumstances and should be tailored to suit each specific circumstance

仔细定义保密信息是什么。这可能根据具体情况而有所不同,应根据具体情况进行调整;

(d) set out the duration of protection of the confidential information. This will differ depending on the type of information disclosed; and

列出保密信息的保护期限。这将根据披露信息的类型而有所不同;和

(e) set out what will happen if the duty of confidentiality is breached so the party receiving the information is put on notice of the legal consequences of doing the wrong thing.

说明如果违反保密义务将会发生什么情况,以便接收信息的当事方注意到做错事情的法律后果。

 

WHAT SHOULD BE YOUR NEXT STEP?

你的下一步应该是什么?

NDAs are generally 3-4 pages in length and to prepare will cost less than one percent of the $300,000 that the MNC incurred. Hence, an NDA’s benefit far outweighs its cost.

NDA长度一般为3-4页,准备NDA的成本不会超过以上跨国公司所花30万美元的法律费用的百分之一。因此,NDA的利益远远超过其成本。

If you value the confidential information in your business and have worked hard to create it, it is foolhardy not to sign an NDA with employees/contractors, and before entering into discussion with another party. Loss of valuable information and competitive advantage is a high price to pay for a small cost.

如果您重视贵公司的机密信息,并努力创造它,那么不与员工/承包商以及在与另一方进行讨论之前签署NDA是很不明智的行为。丧失有价值的信息和竞争优势是一个很高的代价,而避免此事发生只需付出很小的代价。

 

Alice L Wong has engineering qualifications; and is qualified to practice as a lawyer in California, England, and Australia. She has extensive experience negotiating contracts in the US, Europe, and Asia Pacific; and has negotiated multi-million dollar software licensing and consulting services contracts with the Chinese government and banks. Alice can be contacted on +613 9819 1664.

爱丽丝黄拥有工程师资格;和美国加利福尼亚州,英格兰和澳大利亚的律师执照。她在美国,欧洲和亚太地区拥有丰富的合同谈判经验;并曾与中国政府和银行谈判价值数百万美元的软件许可和咨询服务合同。爱丽丝的联系电话号码是+613 9819 1664。

 

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