Confidentiality Trade Secret

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Confidentiality

a) Imagine you are an independent IT consultant. You naturally hold many discussions with your client. Discuss the legal implications for both parties surrounding these discussions

As an IT consultant, your duties are to talk with the clients about your products which as an IT company would be software, hardware, procedures and documentation [1]. The outcome of the discussions should be the legal coverage of you and your company from any damage that could comes from deficient legal coverage.

A company that develops software is obligated to make sure that its programmers, its secretary and generally all the people who are related to that software will sign the nondisclosure agreement (trade secret law). With this you can prove to your client that you actually have a trade secret. Due to the fact that the client might be able to see the source code of your software he is obligated to sign it as well. It's necessary to have such an agreement. It stresses that you and the client take the trade secret seriously and it legally binds the signer from disclosing the secret [2]. Apart from source code protection, the company would like to protect object code (the finished software) as well. The consultant should inform the client that he has to sign a copyright protection contract, which will state who is about to own property rights such as copyright, design rights, confidentiality and trademarks [1].

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The discussions should also include the payment terms and what type of contract there should be between the company/consultant and the client. It is likely to be one of the main types of contracts, the fixed price, cost plus or the development contract. Likewise, warranty period should be predetermined. This should let the client know for how long the company is going to maintain the software for free.

From the clients perspective there are also some obligations that have to be fulfilled. The consultant has to make sure that the company's staff will provide all the necessary easements such as access to the facilities of the client's company, access to appropriate members of his/her staff and everything else the software company considers necessary to complete the maintenance and the installation of the software.

An acceptance procedure should also be agreed. That is a fixed set of acceptance tests, which the success of them will bring in the acceptance of the product.

Consequences in case of termination of the contract before its completion must been discussed.

b) What course of action would you recommend to protect yourself, and why?

Throughout the whole process confidentiality contract is established. This means that every conversation between the consultant and the client should be kept among them. This includes both the company and the client since both of them will have to share secret information, the client about his business operations and the company about the program details. If the consultant crashes the agreement, this will involve violation of his/her trust and the client could sue him. The promise of non-disclosure has to be implied in the contract [2]. However, some trivial information can be told to others.

The client should sign the nondisclosure agreement. This will ensure that the law protects the consultant and the source code will be kept safe. If the client shows the code to someone else and brake the agreement, as company you can take legal actions against the client.

Rigorous and precise payment terms and conditions agreed in the contract will ensure that the company will not lose any money from deadbeat. Also precise contracts will avoid any undesirable indemnities.

If you have the copyright owner's permission you can make and issue copies of the product to the public and adapt the work. To have those permissions the only thing you have to do is to write it down or record it. This will protect the object code which is the finished product, from piracy since as there exists the Copyright Designs and Patents Act (1988). [1]

To be covered from trade secret law you will have to obligate everyone who is related with the product or have seen the code (programmers, partner, secretary), to sign the nondisclosure agreement. If you have to show the source code to others, you have to have them sign a trade secret nondisclosure form. If these persons are likely to have access to the source code for a long time, periodic letters should be sent reminding them of the trade secret status [2].

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Discrimination

a) Imagine you are a manager in your enterprise. Discuss how you would ensure that discrimination within your organisation was minimised.

Discrimination is when you treat one particular group of people less favourably than others because of their age, race, colour, nationality, possible disabilities or ethnic or national origin [4]. Discrimination within any organization is undesirable. Is not just an event which will bring out negative results in your organisation, but at the same time is against the law and If an employee brings a discrimination case against your business, you could be tied up in costly and time-consuming legalities for months. If they win, you could be liable for unlimited damages [5]. As a manager you have to follow some actions to minimise the discrimination.

Any discrimination within your organisation will be caused from staff members. You can prevent that on hiring interviews. Some trick questions will make you understand if that person has discrimination inclinations. In such cases, as manager, you have to make it clear to that person that this company's policy is not to accept any instances of discrimination. This doesn't necessarily mean not to hire this person as this would be discrimination by itself.

The organization should include in its policy that discrimination is forbidden. This should be written in the form of rules or code of behaviour and shall be published in many places into the organisation building ensuring that is widely and clearly displayed.

One of the types of discrimination it's the sex discrimination. Paying less, offering less sick pay or less holidays to a woman which has the same job position as a man, is a kind of discrimination and is against the law by the Equal Pay Act of 1970[1]. Therefore you have to give everybody the same terms in the work contract.

All the employees must have the same opportunities for promotion, transfer or any other benefits. Choosing people for promoting or training or even dismissal may be unconscious discrimination but this continuous to be a discrimination and managers should pay attention when they are about to make such decisions. To ensure that selection processes are carried out in a non-discriminatory way, when specifying the qualifications and requirements, care must be taken to ensure that these relate specifically to the job and that they are in no way discriminatory [6].

Arrange some training programs for the staff to educate and train them behaving properly to their colleagues independently on what their colour is, what their religion is or their age.

Discuss with the members of staff with disability how can the problems at work be overcome. Make changes to the features of the company's premises if it is necessary, so the disabled person won't have any disadvantage when compared to another person [6].

Finally, all staff members must feel that the company strongly supports an anti-discrimination policy. This will prevent them from acting unacceptable.

b) How would you deal with an instance of discrimination that you discover by a member of staff towards another member of staff?

If the manager notices any workplace discrimination, he/she should manage it immediately because the longer it goes, the situation tends to get worse. Further, discrimination by a member of staff towards another member of staff may prove to be expensive for the company since it is against the law and therefore the victim could sue the organisation.

In the first place, in the case of discrimination by a member of staff towards another, you have to distinguish if that discrimination has been made unintentionally or on purpose. If it was unintentionally some advices to the person who did it, would be enough to make him/her more careful in the future. The problem is severe if the discrimination was on purpose. That means that the employer ignored the organisation's rules and policy. The manager shall worry about two main things. Prevent the victim from taking any legal actions against the organisation and punish the perpetrator for no compliance with the rules. You have to consider very well what the punishment should be. It has to be at the same pattern as it was for previous similar cases. It also has to be paradigmatic to the rest of the employees. In addition, the manager could send him/her to an individual anti-discrimination training program for as long as the manager considers it is necessary. You can also cut down an amount of his salary as penalty or reduction of his monthly wage for some months or forever (it depends how serious the instance of discrimination was or if that happened before from the same person). If the same person continues discriminating in the future then the company's manager will have to fire him/she and take any legal actions are included in his contract or in the organisation rules. By taking all the appropriate actions you minimise the probability that the victim will sue your company, in which case it could be liable unlimited damages (costly and time consuming).

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c) How would you deal with an instance of discrimination towards your staff by a member of the public using your enterprise?

When a member of the public discriminates against of one of my employees unfortunately as a manager I cannot do much due to the fact that the particular incidence is initiated by someone who is not a member of my enterprise therefore I cannot take any actions against him. The first thing I would do is confront the customer. However due to the fact that he/she is using my enterprise and I can't just “suspend” a client the only thing I can do to him/her is advise him/her to stop discriminating towards my staff because there are laws that can be used against him/her .Secondly I would advise the member of my staff that was discriminated against to do not take any actions because we would have been dealing with a client and there would be not much we could do except banned him/her from our services and I would also ask my employee if he/her would feel comfortable to be moved in another post .

Works Cited

Bott, Frank. 2005. Professional Issues in Information Technology. Swindon : The british computer society, 2005. 1-902505-65-4.

Pattenden, Rosemary. 2003. THE LAW OF PROFFESIONAL-CLIENT CONFIDENTIALITY. New York : Oxford, 2003. 0-19-826850-5.

Remer, Daniel. 1982. Legal care for your software. Berkeley : NOLO PRESS, 1982. 0-917316-58-4.

Institute of Race Relations - Educating for Racial Justice. [Online] http://www.irr.org.uk/. 223989.

is4profit - Free Small Business Information and Advice. [Online] http://www.is4profit.com/.

meggit. UK_EQUAL_OPPORTUNITIES_POLICY. [Online] http://www.meggitt.com/resources/pdfs/UK_Equal_Opportunities_Policy.pdf.