When Should I Have My Employees Sign A Non-Disclosure Agreement?


California is one of the most innovative and creative job markets in the world. Every year, advances in a wide variety of industries reach consumers as a direct result of work done by California employees. Fashion, entertainment, technology – these are just a few of the many industries which develop cutting-edge consumer goods in California. Employers can protect their valuable intellectual property in this creative and fast-paced market by making sure to have their employees sign a non-disclosure agreement. With strategic employment agreements, such as non-disclosure agreements, employers can create legally enforceable protections for their products, designs, developments, and other intellectual property.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is a broad term which applies to creations of the mind. It can apply to artistic works, such a manuscripts or songs. It can apply to branding, such as logos, colors, and package designs. It can also apply to designs for inventions and consumer goods. All of these types of intellectual property have value, which is owned by an employer who hired a worker to create them. In some cases, this intellectual property can be a highly valuable asset. Employers should seek out an experienced California Employment Attorney to help ensure they have the correct strategic employment agreements to take precautions to protect their intellectual property.

What Tools are Available to Protect Intellectual Property?

Federal law provides protection for trademarks, patents, and copyrights. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention. Trademarks and Patents are administered through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Copyrights, on the other hand, are administered by the U.S. Copyright Office. They are used to protect original works of authorship (including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture) which are fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are tools which are generally aimed at preventing unfair competition from other companies. They do not, however, offer comprehensive protections for employers who hire employees or contractors to develop their intellectual property. In such a case, the idea, process, design, or other intellectual property can be the subject of disputes between an employer and the employee who developed it. Because of this, many employers protect their property rights with legally-binding contracts such as non-disclosure agreements. The specific needs of the employer will determine what type of contract is best suited to protect the property. For example, an invention assignment clause can protect an employer by clearly demonstrating the employee’s intent to relinquish property rights to intellectual property created for the employer. A non-disclosure agreement can protect intellectual property from being leaked to the press, or introduced to competitors by employees. Other contracts can be used to create different protections for intellectual property.

Protect Your Company’s Intellectual Property With Experienced Legal Advice

For decades, the skilled California employment attorneys at Structure Law Group have helped California companies protect their intellectual property. Call (408) 441-7500 today, or email slgadmin@structurelaw.com to schedule your consultation with an experienced California corporate attorney. We help companies access the tools that will best meet their needs.