Nondisclosure agreements are used in the business and creative industries to protect confidential information. However, signing an NDA has become such a standard practice that few people give it much thought anymore. Because of this, you may believe that your only responsibility after signing on the dotted line is to not intentionally share the information with anyone.

However, that is only half the truth. Most nondisclosure agreements also include provisions to discourage negligence. Negligence may include leaving important blueprints lying around on a dinner table or allowing family members to use a computer where confidential files are accessible.

Remember: once you sign an NDA, the information provided to you is now confidential and should be treated as such. That means it must be intentionally safeguarded beyond the usual precautions. See below for some of the Purdue University’s recommendations of best practices for handling confidential information:

  •          Hard copies of confidential information should be stored with cover sheets that are clearly marked as confidential.
  •          When not in use, hard copies of documents should be secured in locked rooms or cabinets.
  •          Electronic files containing confidential information should include “confidential” in the filename.
  •          If you are allowed to share the information with others on a need-to-know basis, use your discretion wisely to choose someone who will follow the same strict procedures you have in place.

The rules above are just a few created by Purdue University to advise others on how to secure their own confidential information when partnering for research. However, it nonetheless illustrates the kind of care you should take when it comes to safeguarding the information your client, partner or a vendor has entrusted to you.

This article is purely for educational purposes and should not be used as legal advice.