When manufacturing for a wide range of companies, from R&D and University, to niche market tech firms and through to manufacturing giants, there exists a common concern in dealing with other businesses or entities. The concern centers around the ability to “Trust” that the information that you reveal to this other person or company will indeed remain “Confidential”.

When we give or receive drawings or information that are confidential we have to rely on our ability to form a relationship with the end user of our product, or the supplier of a key piece of equipment or service. In other words, we both need to feel a certain level of comfort. The first layer of confidence is gained by doing your research on the supplier of parts or service.

Know who the company is by doing web research, and follow it by talking to companies in the same industry to get feedback from a different perspective. How long have they been in business and what is their reputation.  Ask if they could send you an NDA, if they have never heard the term then be a bit more cautious. We take Non- Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) very seriously, as it is indeed a legal document as described in the Wikipedia information below.

It is more often done from company head to company head, as that way the responsibility is definitely acknowledged within the corporate or organizational structure, and the information to be released is also usually defined.

So, in summation, the “who to trust”, will serve you best by doing research on your supplier. The “how”, is through an NDA or other suitable style of agreement, because if they won’t sign one, then perhaps you should not be dealing with them.

The information below is taken with a debt of thanks from Wikipedia, of which we are proud supporters.

A non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also known as a confidentiality agreement (CA), confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), proprietary information agreement(PIA), or secrecy agreement, is a legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge, or information that the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict access to or by third parties. It’s a contract through which the parties agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement. An NDA creates a confidential relationship between the parties to protect any type of confidential and proprietary information or trade secrets. As such, an NDA protects nonpublic business information.

NDAs are commonly signed when two companies, individuals, or other entities (such as partnerships, societies, etc.) are considering doing business and need to understand the processes used in each other’s business for the purpose of evaluating the potential business relationship. NDAs can be “mutual”, meaning both parties are restricted in their use of the materials provided, or they can restrict the use of material by a single party. It is also possible for an employee to sign an NDA or NDA-like agreement with an employer. In fact, some employment agreements will include a clause restricting employees’ use and dissemination of company-owned “confidential information.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-disclosure_agreement  Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License