On the one hand, the protection of trade secrets and intellectual property is crucial to all companies, and it is a prerequisite for obtaining an attractive valuation of your startup that you have adequate protection in place. Such protection includes, of course, registration of your rights if possible and expedient, but also the use of safeguards which prevent others from using and commercializing your trade secrets and intellectual property without your consent.
On the other hand, many companies have a regular need for exchanging confidential information with their business relations, including suppliers and customers, for value-creating purposes.
When discussing a potential cooperation, you usually need to disclose information of confidential nature to the other party. In order to protect such information, you should require the recipient to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), wherein the recipient undertakes to keep the disclosed information confidential, and not use it for other purposes than the on-going discussions.
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