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What should be in employees' proprietary information agreements?

One sign that a new business is going in the right direction is being able to hire new employees. It is an exciting an optimistic time for a business, but there also must be great care taken to ensure that trade secrets and other integral pieces of information are protected.

An important part of this is designing the right proprietary information agreement. These are essentially contracts that set expectations between the employer and the employee as to what information should not be disseminated and how sensitive information is to be kept confidential

Contracts, like recipes, can have many variations while still reaching the same goal. However, if a recipe misses important ingredients, the finished product could be ruined. The same could happen with a defective proprietary agreement. In the event an employee must be terminated or an employee decides to leave the company, the information he or she was exposed to must not make its way to other venues.

If this indeed happens, an employer must preserve its right to seek proper legal remedies. With that said, employers should be diligent about specifying what information may be disclosed to the employee and why it must be confidential. In a perfect world, employees would know how to deal with sensitive information, but a detailed description of what is, or should be, confidential reduces the likelihood of confusion between employee and employer.

Also, when an employee leaves the company, the proprietary agreement should also indicate that the confidential information should remain as such even though the employee may no longer have access to it.

If you have questions about the enforceability of an agreement, an experienced attorney can advise you. 

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