Why You Need to Read a Confidentiality Agreement in Full
If you’ve lived long enough, there’s a good chance you’ve seen one of them: a confidentiality agreement. Whether you’re signing one for a work project or because of a personal issue with another person, they can be pretty daunting. The extensive amount of fine print and “legalese” can be tough for anyone not well-acquainted with the law to tackle.
But that’s no excuse for not reading the fine print: in fact, it’s imperative that you do so especially if you’re not familiar with these types of documents. In this article, we’ll take a look at the ins and outs of a typical confidentiality agreement and tell you what you can expect – and what not to expect.
The more you know about these confidentiality agreements, the more you’ll see just why you should read everything you sign.
The Goals of Confidentiality Agreements
Most confidentiality agreements (also known as non-disclosure agreements) are written with a few goals in mind:
- To give one of the parties legal recourse if you should make any of their trade secrets – or any information protected under the agreement, for that matter – public knowledge. Essentially, they can’t stop you from doing this, but having a confidentiality agreement in place gives them grounds for legal action for those “just in case” scenarios.
- To protect business information from competitors. In some cases, these clauses can make many confidentiality agreements into de facto (though not official) non-compete agreements. Protecting one company’s information from another is standard practice in a number of business fields, so if you’re being urged to sign one at the start of a new job or project, remember that this is a normal procedure.
The ultimate goal of the confidentiality agreement, of course, is obvious: to protect information. But what if there’s something that you notice, as you read the confidentiality agreement, that seems out of place?
Unexpected Findings in a Confidentiality Agreement
This is why you don’t want to skim over a confidentiality agreement – or anything else you sign – simply because you think the agreement is a matter of routine: sometimes, extra “clauses” can be put into a confidentiality agreement that you simply don’t agree with.
For example, let’s say you’re beginning work at a new company, and they have you sign a Non-Disclosure or Confidentiality Agreement. Not a big deal, right? Most companies will have you sign this kind of form in order to protect this information.
But what if there’s a section in that agreement that deals with your capacity to work at other companies within the same field? Then the confidentiality agreement is crossing the barrier of its normal template into sketchy territory – you’ll want to bring it up with someone before you sign it.
And remember: just because someone tells you “that’s ok, sign it anyway” doesn’t mean that signing the document is suddenly okay. Signing the document is signing the document, no matter what they say. So be sure to read each confidentiality agreement in full, and make sure they look like the ones you find at FindLegalForms.com.