While working at previous employers I have been exposed to confidential technical information. As usual, this is covered in the confidentiality agreement that I signed. The agreement puts no expiration date on this, i.e. it says something like "during your employment and any time thereafter".

Now in many cases, this information is quite old, i.e. 10+ years and I have no way of knowing whether the company would still consider it confidential, uses is or is even aware of it's existence any more.

Technical knowledge in general progresses fast so there is some "time value" on it: the older it gets, the less relevant and confidential it will be.

Is there a reasonable expectation of when the confidentiality requirement for for general technical information expires? It's not patented or protected in any other formal way.


“general technical information” is not confidential

I can’t think of another way to put this but only confidential information is confidential.

Confidential information must be secret and proprietary and imparted to you in circumstances where you are made aware or it’s obvious that it is secret - it doesn’t cover everything you get told. An NDA on employees that says “everything you learn is confidential” is worthless.

  • Might depend on the state – George White Nov 29 '19 at 21:48
  • I'm not asking about the "crown jewels" here, but information you come across during the normal course of working there. It's NOT specifically tagged as confidential and it's not "obviously" confidential. It's more in the category of "this could have been considered confidential 10 years ago but it's probably not today anymore". – Hilmar Nov 29 '19 at 23:26
  • When you were made aware of it were you told “this is confidential” or was it obviously a business secret? If not, it never was confidential. – Dale M Nov 30 '19 at 0:02
  • 1
    It was NOT marked as confidential. Whether it's a "obviously" a business secret is in the eye of the beholder. – Hilmar Nov 30 '19 at 21:20
  • @Hilmar no, it’s an objective test - it has to be something “proprietary”, known only to that organisation. – Dale M Nov 30 '19 at 22:30

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