Often times, I hear people express that “someone stole their idea.”

Following these moments, my first question is “did you make the person sign an NDA before you shared information?”

The answer is usually no.

Credit: Giphy

But first, what is an NDA?

A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or confidentiality agreement is a legal document that conceals the details of private information. This agreement should be used at the start of conversations and before you share any information with another person. Typically, this agreement helps businesses maintain a competitive advantage and will ensure the secrecy of whatever information is shared, such as client lists, processes and procedures, secret recipes, and business ideas. NDAs can also be used in personal relationships between people. For example, a celebrity may require people around them to sign an NDA to maintain privacy within their personal and business relationships.

Do both parties sign NDAs?

NDAs can be unilateral or mutual. Unilateral confidentiality agreements require one party to maintain the confidence or privacy of the dealings, whereas, mutual confidentiality agreements provide that both parties must maintain the secrecy of the dealing. However, not all information is afforded the right to privacy. For instance, standard business registration information, public filings, and any other information available in the public record are not covered. Covered information that is revealed is considered a breach and will entitle you to receive remedies that are listed in the agreement, money damages, or even the ability to file criminal charges against the person who revealed confidential information.

What should I do if someone doesn't want to sign my NDA?

Protecting your business and personal relationships should always be the first priority and the use of NDAs can help alleviate future conflicts. If there is ever an instance where the person that you are entering into a potential relationship with does not want to sign an NDA, RUN! That is not a relationship that you want to engage in, despite the upfront benefit.

No more short term dealings. It is time to think long-term.