There are various ways in which European SMEs can protect their IP. The most obvious way is to register IP in the country where SMEs do business in. At the same time, another, sometimes overlooked, way to protect IP is using well-written contracts. The people and companies that SMEs do business with in China, and therefore contract with, will often use the European SMEs’ IP to varying degrees. Therefore, it is also very important for the European SMEs to protect their IP with well-written manufacturing contracts. Today’s blog post gives some practical tips on how to write good manufacturing non-disclosure agreements for doing business in China.
Defining protected information: keeping everyone on the same page
NNN agreements should clearly define which rights are being disclosed or licensed, their nature, and their scope. Clear mechanisms for identifying and marking, accounting for, and maintaining secrecy for this information (or indications of who will bear these responsibilities, what general types of information should be considered confidential, or processes for retroactively marking material as confidential) should be present. If desired, additional clauses can also outline what types of information will not be considered confidential. Naturally, before these types of information can be identified, an SME should first understand just what its trade secrets are. Conducting an IP assessment and audit can identify key IP which was otherwise taken for granted or not fully appreciated by the SME and can assign a value to the IP which will make calculating contract damages much easier.
While the contract is in force, these rules should be strictly followed. Over the course of the contract, additional IP may be generated as a result of the work of employees or independent innovations on the part of the manufacturer. NNN agreements can also include clauses which dictate that all such IP belongs to the SME and can thereby avoid future disputes. Note, however, that China places restrictions on the export of some technology—meaning that agreements automatically granting new IP to the SME could be struck down in court. Continue reading “Dealing with Partners and Employees: Writing a Good Manufacturing Non-disclosure Agreement in China” »