In this four-part article, the Lakeland construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law are discussing how contractors and construction businesses can ensure that their intellectual property is protected. In the first part and the second part of this article, we discussed the definition of trade secrets and specific examples within the construction industry. In this section, we will talk about the preliminary steps to ensure your intellectual property is protected. Need help with contracts? A knowledgeable Lakeland construction attorney knows the importance of construction contracts that feature a nondisclosure agreement.
Developing Employment Contracts
When a new employee joins your construction company, their addition needs to be supported by an ironclad contract. Many construction companies make the mistake of using boilerplate contracts for all of their agreements. When hiring a new employee, it’s important that the contract is tailored to the specific responsibilities of the employee. Moreover, when employees are promoted to senior positions and will be exposed to vital, private information related to the business, it’s important that their contract reflects these added responsibilities. Construction firms must always be mindful of the potential exposure of their intellectual property and ways they can ensure this information remains secure.
The Confidentiality Agreement
Along with crafting specific contracts for each employee and their position, the contract also needs to clearly outline all information the employee has access to that is considered confidential. The confidentiality agreement, also referred to as a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), is a legal obligation that states that the information divulged between the owner of the content and the person receiving the information remains private between them. Further, an NDA details that if this valuable information is breached by the party that was provided this information, there is legal recourse to pursue damages.
The Benefits of a Confidentiality Agreement
With an NDA in place, the owner of the trade secret is keeping this information secure as the party that is receiving this information is legally promising not to divulge the intellectual property to anyone else. The NDA also can assist the owner of the trade secret with protecting any other intellectual property related to the trade secret (patents, copyrights, trademarks). Lastly, by agreeing to an NDA, both parties are acknowledging that the information detailed in the agreement is confidential and that penalties exist if this information is divulged to any entity outside of their agreement.
It’s important that the trade secrets are crystal clear in the contract as this can greatly reduce the chances of costly litigation down the road if a dispute arises.
For more information on how construction firms can protect trade secrets, please read part four.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.