NDA’s are Just the Beginning for IP Protection

It is pretty well accepted that if you want to protect your businesses proprietary information that a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is the place to start.  A recent decision out of the US warns us that an NDA is only the first step on a long and continuing path to protecting your IP.

In that case, a design firm wanted to contract a manufacturer to produce metal cases for electronics devices such as iPads.  They started as one might expect, by having the manufacturer sign an NDA restricting the use of all Confidential Information provided by the design firm so they could release the product specifications and get actual manufacturing information such as materials and pricing confirmed.  The process continued on too long and even though they did finally agree on a having a product produced the design firm took no further steps towards protect their product.

Drawings and other technical documents were provided to the manufacturer without notices warning the documents were confidential or any other additional efforts by the design firm to protect the IP they provided to the manufacturer.  As you may have guessed by now, the manufacturer started producing their own version of the cases and the design firm sued.

At trial the design firm relied on, among other things, the NDA.  The Court held that document alone was insufficient and more was needed to be done in this case by the design firm.  The conclusion is a call to action; simply because you started off on the right foot doesn’t mean you can’t trip up along the way.  If IP is of any value to your business, let us help you set up and implement a policy to ensure it is more than minimally protected.