Employment Contracts: Confidential Information/Trade Secrets
During the signing of employment contracts, employers may request for employees to sign a separate agreement which governs the protection of confidential information and/or trade secrets that the employee has handled during the course of his/her work. Further information can be gleaned through consultation with a commercial lawyer.
Would such a clause be enforceable against the employee?
Yes a clause is enforceable as it is governed under section 6 of the Copyright Act (Cap. 63).
What does section 6 of the Copyright Act cover?
Section 6 states that:
“Nothing in this Act shall affect the operation of the law relating to breaches of trust or confidence.”
In other words, this law could potentially cover confidential information and trade secrets. This complements the issue of copyright as the law on confidential information covers ideas. Copyright on the other hand, only covers ideas expressed on a reproduceable medium.
How would I know if my confidential information/trade secret can be protected?
Generally, confidential information is protected under the following conditions:
i) Disclosure of such information would either cause injury to the owner or benefit others;
ii) The owner believes that the information is not available in the public domain and is still a secret;
iii) It is reasonable for the owner to believe (i) and (ii); and
iV) The information has to be judged with reference towards the practices of that particular trade or industry.
Our team of Corporate & Employment Law lawyers in Singapore would be in the best position to advice on the course of action if you have a potential civil dispute involving the disclosure of confidential information or trade secrets.