An Intellectual Property NDA is also referred to as a non-disclosure agreement. For a lot of businesses, this type of agreement is crucial. Specifically, intellectual property rights are important for all companies. Therefore, in order for businesses to protect such rights, they enter into NDAs to ensure protection on their end, essentially as a type of insurance from potential infringement and violation of their rights.

Non-Disclosure Agreement: An Overview

A non-disclosure agreement, also referred to as a confidentially agreement, allows a business to share intellectual property rights with others without the risk of having it stolen by that party. The reason for sharing such private information could be due to the fact that the business might need help enhancing the property rights or might want expert input from another business or person as to what should be changed in order to increase the output of the intellectual property. The agreement is legally binding on all parties involved, and ensures that the party receiving such private information not disclose it to anyone. For example, let’s say you own a business and create some sort of new cell phone application. You want the help of a few expert consultants who can help you enhance the application. You’ll bring in these experts and have them sign the non-disclosure agreement which will prevent them from not only disclosing the new invention to anyone else, but it will also prevent them from actually stealing the invention and creating something similar or identical to it.

Intellectual Property Rights

There are many different types of intellectual property rights that you should be aware of so that if you are faced with an infringement case, you know whether or not you did in fact infringe on another’s intellectual property right. Some of these rights can include:

  1. Copyright
  2. Patent
  3. Trademark
  4. Trade secret

A copyright is an automatic protection that is given to books, music, paintings, and other related literary and artistic works. Copyright protection can also be given via international agreements. Keep in mind that this type of protection is limited to a certain period of time. Most countries provide that the protection will last for the lifetime of the creator plus 50 years thereafter, depending on the type of work.


A patent is an invention over something – whether it be a utility, design, or plant. In order to obtain patent protection, you must register your invention and disclose it to the public. Once you submit your patent application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you will have to wait approximately 12-18 months before finding out if you have been approved. During this time, you can begin using your invention, since you will have temporary protection until the examiner at the USPTO office determines if your creation warrants patent protection.

If and/or when it is approved, you will have patent protection for approximately 20 years. Once 20 years has passed, you generally cannot apply for additional protection. The rules varies depending on the type of patent you are applying for, so be sure to check the USPTO website beforehand. If you plan on obtaining patent protection internationally, you will have to submit several applications to each country since different countries have their own unique requirements.


Trademarks apply to brand names, symbols, signs, and designs for a product or service. The trademark itself must be unique. Once you register it, you will have full protection over it. However, even if you fail to register your mark, you’ll still have common-law protection, and anyone who steals your mark can be sued for infringement, particularly if you can prove that the defendant should have known that the mark is already in use.

Trade Secret

A trade secret is a type of confidential information that must meet certain criteria, such as possessing commercial value, conferring economic benefit to the owner, and also that the owner must take preventative measures to protect the trade secret. Such trade secrets aren’t registered publicly, as this would destroy the initial purpose of having it to begin with. Furthermore, once it’s published, it’s no longer a trade secret.

If you need help learning more about a non-disclosure agreement, or if you need assistance drafting an NDA, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5-percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.