There are many instances in life where confidentiality is a necessity. This can be true in both business and in your personal life. However, even if confidentiality is expected, it is not always delivered. Instead of simply expecting someone to stay true to their word, you should consider creating a mutual confidentiality agreement. This is the only way to ensure that your business and your information is protected at all times.
A mutual confidentiality agreement is also sometimes called a mutual non-disclosure agreement. It is a legal document and contract that requires both parties that sign the agreement to not disclose any information protected by the agreement. It essentially creates a confidential relationship between the two parties, and they are linked by the information that they share and the information listed in the agreement. It is often used to keep information, such as trade secrets or proprietary information, secret and confidential.
The agreement will also detail how this information can be disclosed and would prevent any information from being released without the consent of both parties. Additionally, this type of agreement will include a clause that discusses any potential consequences if the information is leaked by either party. Examples of this would include who would pay for the expenses of a legal proceeding and any other penalties of violating the agreement.
Something to take note of with this type of agreement is that it is a mutual agreement. This means that neither party can disclose the information instead of simply limiting one party from doing so. This is an important distinction because it changes the reasons for using it. While there are confidentiality agreements that are one way and pertain to one party, in this instance it is applied to both individuals. With a one-way disclosure, it can provide the party that is disclosing the information a bit more power and flexibility. With a two-way agreement, which is a mutual agreement, it is more balanced since neither party can disclose information. This type of agreement is meant to protect both parties equally.
One of the main reasons why people like to use mutual confidentiality agreements is because they have proprietary information or trade secrets that they want to protect. This information tends to be very valuable to its owner. Additionally, the information could possibly be destroyed or diminished if it is released to others. This makes it important to protect and to put some restrictions on the distribution of the information. To determine if you have proprietary information, you should determine if it meets the basic criteria. The criteria is as follows:
As an example, proprietary information can be information about software, records, a specific recipe, or other types of products that have been developed by a company or different parties. It is also generally information that was expensive to create or has another type of value.
With a mutual confidentiality agreement, an example of this would be if both parties have worked together to create a product or service that they will both benefit from.
Just like there are specific things that you should consider including in your mutual confidentiality agreement for protection, there are also certain types of information that cannot be included. Some of the things that you cannot include in these types of agreements are as follows:
Additionally, it is important to know that this type of agreement is not something you should put in place to protect you from illegal practices. In fact, if you are trying to use this type of agreement to protect you from legal action because your methods are illegal, then this type of agreement would be void. The other party could also still report you and the agreement would not prevent them from doing so.
Mutual confidentiality agreements are typically used by businesses. It can be an agreement that is used between two businesses or between the business and an individual, such as an employee. Most information that is protected by these agreements is important to the business because it provides them with their own trade secrets or other information that has allowed them to be successful in the industry.
Just because this is typically used by businesses, it does not mean it can only be used by them. This type of agreement can also be used by an individual. For example, if someone has a secret recipe they created with another party and they want to make sure it is protected, they may create this type of agreement to ensure the recipe is not shared with any other parties. The most common situation for using a mutual confidentiality agreement is between two businesses. An example of this would be if the two companies are working together to launch a new product and they want to mutually protect the interests of both parties.
It is not always easy to determine if this type of agreement is the best option for your specific needs. If you are not sure whether or not this is the best option, then you should ask yourself these three simple questions:
If you find yourself answering "yes" to any of these questions, then you should consider developing a mutual confidentiality agreement so that you can ensure all parties involved are limited in what they reveal and that your company is protected.
There are four main things that should be included in a mutual confidentiality agreement no matter the specific circumstances. When you are working to create your agreement, you should make sure the following key components are included:
There are many other components that make up a mutual confidentiality agreement and you should aim to include all of them in yours.
Use our mutual confidentiality agreement template to create a thorough agreement and ensure that you do not miss any key components.