Have you identified information in your winery, wine, or hospitality business that is valuable as a trade secret? Perhaps you have certain technologies, techniques, materials, innovations, inventions, customer lists or formulas that you need to protect? If so, what steps have you taken to protect the secrecy of your business’s confidential information?
A sensible way for you to maintain your business’s trade secrets and confidential information is through the use of a Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement. A Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement can be indispensable in helping you to protect your ideas, formulas, trade secrets, new business ventures, and key business information. A Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement is a written agreement executed by you and your key employees, suppliers, distributors, buyers, sellers or independent contractors who either help create or have access to your confidential information.
A Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement can be one-way (use is restricted by one-party) or it can be mutual (use is restricted by both parties). The parties contractually agree to protect the confidentiality of your business information against improper disclosure of information that is not generally known or in the public domain. The parties are legally bound to keep the information secret. If a disclosure of your confidential information is made, you may sue for damages or pursue a court order against the violator for future unauthorized disclosures.
Key elements of a Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure agreement include:
- defining the confidential information
- determining time frames to maintain confidentiality of the information
- determining the particular purpose for which the parties will disclose the confidential information
- agreement that the parties not disclose the information to third parties
- binding the heirs and assignees of the agreement.
It is important to limit access to such information to those persons in your business who need to know certain information in order to perform their duties. Thus you should take reasonable steps to store and secure your paper and electronic information.
What confidential information do you need to keep secret? Perhaps now is a good time to consider a Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement for your winery, wine or hospitality business.