A technical writer’s guide to NDAs
I was cleaning out my home office recently and came across a collection of Non-Disclosure (NDA) Agreements that I’ve signed over the years as a technical writer. A quick leaf through of the folder made it clear that many of the NDAs were much the same if not identical.
As a tech industry contractor or employee, you need to consider the following about NDAs:
If you have to sign the same NDA more than twice during your tenure as a contractor or full-time employee with an organization it means the organization doesn’t know their own intellectual property. Or, exactly what you’ll disclose. Signing the same NDA agreement more than once transcends dysfunction and disorganization. Ir speaks to the organizational culture and their lack of understanding about intellectual property.
Once you accumulate more than one NDA, you’ll then realize they are pretty much the same. This means some dude has is making big bucks off NDA templates that attorneys foisting on high tech companies. All they have to do is make a few edits to a stock NDA (available to you or more)and then slap on a healthy margin to their NDA agreement deliverable. The synergy between NDA templates and attorneys has yet to be recognized but is a buffer to law firms serving high tech firms so both parties can make their comp and bonus plans.
Keep a copy of your signed NDAs in a hard copy file. While the file size may burgeon, you should review the signed NDAs to see if you can say the same thing about the original ideas that are to be protected by those NDAs.
Vaporware and NDAs sometimes go together or so I was to learn earlier in my career.
NDAs can hide lies and half-truths that an employer or client may tell their partners, investors, venture capitalists, and customers. Knowing the truth above and beyond the NDA can get you into trouble depending on your political and employment status.
Remember you as a technical writer may hold lots of corporate secrets. However, some employers and clients may always disavow that fact.
Have you had any odd experiences with NDAs?