Trade Secrets & Non-disclosure

Trade secrets can apply to any number of things, from a secret recipe right through to a business process – it is important that you protect them.

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How we can help with trade secrets & non-disclosure

Trade secrets can apply to any number of things, from a secret recipe right through to a business process. If you have confidential information that is of commercial value, it is important that you protect it. Trade secrets enable companies to have a competitive edge, and they form an integral part of intellectual property strategy.

Confidential information and trade secrets can be good forms of protection for things such as the way something is manufactured or the ingredients used in a new product formulation – providing they can be kept confidential or secret. That’s the key, and for some businesses it may simply not represent a high enough threshold for sustainable competitive advantage.

Do you have a great idea but don’t know how to get it to market?

You are not alone. No business can do everything and most great ideas involve input from a lot of people along the road from conception to market. You might need to talk to designers, developers, manufacturers, market researchers, investors, etc. How do you talk to these people safely?

The common practice is to use a confidentiality agreement (sometimes called a “non-disclosure agreement” or “NDA”). Confidentiality agreements protect sensitive information. They create an obligation to keep your information secret and not misuse it, and they help preserve your ability to register a patent or design. They are particularly useful for working out whether an idea is feasible before investing too much in it.

What does a confidentiality agreement do?

When a proposed recipient of your information signs a confidentiality agreement, they agree to accept that information on certain terms. These usually include keeping the information secret and using it only for certain purposes. It gives you the right to apply to a court for an order to stop them misusing your information, and for damages if they have already done so and you have suffered loss as a result.

Do I really need a written agreement?

Our clients often ask whether it is enough just to tell the recipient that information is confidential. The answer is that it is better than nothing but far from ideal. In that situation you may not have enough evidence to show a court that there has been an agreement to accept that information in confidence and a breach of confidence. Having a written agreement puts you in a much stronger position.

A written agreement can also increase your options for intellectual property registration. For example, to obtain a patent or registered design, the idea or design must usually be novel (i.e., not publicly known or commercially used) when the application is filed. Using a confidentiality agreement prevents your disclosure of your invention or design to the recipient from being a public disclosure.

Meet our trade secrets & non-disclosure experts

Jonathan Lucas

Partner

Jonathan Lucas

Jonathan heads James & Wells’ Patents Team specialising in mechanical engineering, electronics, physics, telecommunications and software. He has a strong academic background in physics and many years’ patent attorney experience working across all these fields. He specialises in drafting patent…

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Jason Rogers

Partner

Jason Rogers

As Head of the James & Wells Life Sciences team, and with over twenty-five years’ industry experience, Jason’s expertise includes a diverse array of biotechnology fields. Jason’s focus is on high-end intellectual property strategies for patent, design and copyright rights….

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Adam Luxton

Partner

Adam Luxton

Adam is highly regarded in the fields of mining, energy, medical devices and consumer products. As an experienced patent attorney with an extensive background in mining and software engineering, Adam’s services are in demand by national and multinational companies seeking…

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Dr. Andrew Scott

Partner

Dr. Andrew Scott

Andrew heads James & Wells’ Chemistry team. With a broad background in physics, biochemistry, and chemistry, Andrew has also completed a PhD in synthetic medicinal chemistry and post-doctoral studies in materials science. Andrew is passionate about providing solid, commercially relevant…

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Nick Mountford

Partner

Nick Mountford

With over 25-years’ experience as a patent attorney in the engineering/ICT sector, Nick has helped numerous clients achieve commercially beneficial ownership and control of their IP, while mitigating against risks posed by competitors. His work centres on protecting clients’ innovations…

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Mike Flint

Partner

Mike Flint

Mike specialises in the electrical, electronics and software fields and has specialist knowledge of acquiring IP rights in the Asian market. He has a strong academic background having graduated with a first-class honours degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from…

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Ceri Wells

Partner

Ceri Wells

Ceri is a founding partner of James & Wells, a past president of the New Zealand Institute of Patent Attorneys, an experienced patent and trade mark attorney, and an outspoken champion of innovation. As an experienced lawyer and patent attorney…

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Ben Cain

Senior Associate

Ben Cain

Ben specialises in resolving disputes concerning registered or common law trade mark rights, domain names, copyright rights, registered designs, fair trading issues and confidential information. His passion is resolving trade mark and domain name disputes, having spent 14 years as…

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Jason Tuck

Senior Associate

Jason Tuck

Ensuring businesses have sound commercial objectives in place, Jason provides advice on identifying, securing, and leveraging their IP – particularly in relation to patents and designs. Between local exporters and overseas companies entering New Zealand, Jason has experience in advising…

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Britta Fromow

Consultant

Britta Fromow

Britta is a lawyer and patent attorney with over 20 years’ experience in the Intellectual Property profession. Her specialist area is mechanical engineering, electronics, medical devices and agri-technologies. Before becoming a patent attorney, Britta gained first-hand experience of the R&D…

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Andrew Knowles

Of Counsel

Andrew Knowles

With over 30 years’ experience working in intellectual property, Andrew has been involved in numerous trade mark and design cases both in prosecution and litigation. His current practice includes working with clients on trade marks, copyright, design and patents. Outside…

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Alexia Mayer

Partner

Alexia Mayer

Alexia is an experienced Australian and New Zealand intellectual property (IP) litigator. Alexia’s practice includes patent, trade mark and copyright infringement, patent and trade mark oppositions, breach of confidence, IP ownership disputes, misleading and deceptive conduct, and IP licensing. Originally…

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Samuel Parkinson

Associate

Samuel Parkinson

Samuel joined the Hamilton Patents Team in 2017. He is a registered Trans-Tasman Patent Attorney with expertise in electronic, software and mechanical inventions. Samuel’s software development background includess embedded software projects, as well as developing electronic test fixtures. Sam’s software…

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Jason Wach

Partner

Jason Wach

Jason is an experienced intellectual property litigator. He has an extensive background in acting for local and international businesses and assisting them with the enforcement of intellectual property rights. He has appeared as counsel and assisted senior counsel in all…

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Ian Finch

Partner

Ian Finch

Ian is recognised as one of New Zealand’s most influential leaders in intellectual property. He has extensive experience advising clients in the filing, prosecution, and enforcement of their innovation at all levels and across a range of industries, particularly in…

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Gus Hazel

Partner

Gus Hazel

Gus is one of Australasia’s most experienced intellectual property lawyers. His experience includes litigation at all levels of the Australian and New Zealand systems, alternative dispute resolution procedures (mediation and arbitration), commercialisation, regulatory issues and administrative law. In addition to…

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James Rowland

Associate

James Rowland

James is an Associate in our litigation team. James’s practice, while extending across a range of intellectual property rights, is centred predominantly on the obtaining and enforcement of patent rights. Frequently working across teams and in multi-jurisdictional disputes, James has…

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George Jackson

Solicitor

George Jackson

George is a Solicitor with the litigation team based out of Tauranga. George’s practice includes dispute and enforcement of a range of intellectual property rights, but with a particular focus on trade mark and Fair Trading Act 1986 matters. George…

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Kathryn McLardy

Law Clerk

Kathryn McLardy

Kathryn is a Law Clerk in the James & Wells Litigation team, based in our Christchurch office. She recently completed her LLB (Hons) at the University of Canterbury and upon completion she received the University Prize in Law. During her…

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Jacqui Zohrab

Solicitor

Jacqui Zohrab

Jacqui is a Solicitor in the James & Wells Auckland Litigation team and a recent University of Canterbury graduate with an LLB & BSc. She has also been a member of the New Zealand Defence Force since 2019. In her…

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Insights and resources

Champions of Innovation®

Since 1979, James & Wells has been at the forefront of innovation in Australasia. We are here to help you grow, leverage and protect your IP. Our depth of experience ranges from managing large IP portfolios for international corporations, right through to protecting the ideas of start-ups, and everything in between. No matter the size of your organisation, James & Wells are here to be your dedicated Champions of Innovation®.

We are a full-service IP firm – that means you will find everything you need to protect your IP just by working with us. We will help you with patents, trade marks, litigation and IP strategy – our people are externally recognised as some of the best in the business, and they work together to bring you custom-built IP solutions that are tailored exactly to your needs. When you work with James & Wells, you know you’re in a safe pair of hands, with a highly experience team supporting you.

Talk to us today about how we can work together.

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