A nondisclosure agreement is a powerful contract that can protect an architecture firm, engineering group, or other professional entity. Nondisclosure agreements help professionals protect confidential and proprietary information that is critical to their success from use and distribution by others. However, as most California-based design professionals know, it is impossible to get building projects off the ground without sharing information.

This post will discuss several variations to nondisclosure agreements that design professionals may use to protect their work and engage with other building and construction entities. The information contained herein is not legal advice or guidance and readers should speak with legal professionals about their nondisclosure needs.

Types of nondisclosure agreements

The nature and type of nondisclosure agreement that an entity may need to perform contractual work with others will depend on several factors. However, nondisclosures for design professionals generally fall into three specific categories:

  • Unilateral nondisclosures: Used when a design professional must protect information shared to them by their client or project owner.
  • Bilateral nondisclosures: Used when design professionals and clients or project owners agree to protect each other’s shared information.
  • Multilateral nondisclosures: Used when project entities must protect the information of multiple involved parties.

Many factors can dictate the form of nondisclosure that a project may require. A project’s scope can be an important detail with regard to this issue.

Defining scope for nondisclosure development

The scope of a project encompasses the plans, materials, and timeline for a building venture. Nondisclosures may apply to only particular information or periods of time; the parties to these agreements can set the limits to serve their needs. It can be difficult to anticipate what types of nondisclosure protections parties may need to ensure their interests are secure; the help of legal professionals who work in the construction and contract fields of law can provide clarity and counsel to design professionals confronting these questions.