When starting new employment for a company (Company A) based in India it had asked me to sign an NDA for a company (Company B) based in San Jose, USA. The NDA had addressed to me directly and not Company A (or the fact it is contracted or related in any way). It was boilerplate NDA and there were even specific provisions such as:
* Governing Law. This Agreement shall be governed in all respects by the laws of the United States of America and by the laws of the State of California, as such laws are applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within California between California residents.
Which didn't make sense to me has to how it is enforceable for me as a resident in India. Though asked Company A about inconsistency as these didn't get any response (it was verbal) and I just wanted to start working to make a living, so didn't pay heed to it any further.
During my term of employment, they would cite confidentiality agreement and prohibit us from even mentioning the technologies (even the generally known in the industry - which was allowed in the NDA) we were working on. We were not to list even those in the job sites, leave alone a vague broad description of work being done.
I had quit the company about a couple of months back and also, got the proper experience and relieving letter. And also moved to a new country for familial reasons. Now, I have started looking for a job in the new country where LinkedIn profile seems to be a norm and having at least some amount of work experience listed being listed on it an informally known edict for getting a job or at least even an interview.
So to search for gainful employment, I had to mention in vague terms the technologies used (not mentioning exact algorithm or process), why used the technology (for example, worked on cloud service to scale services), and the fact I led two teams for various purpose there (for example, led a team of 4 for deploying automated solutions).
Now I have been sent (over email as an attachment - even though in NDA it is mentioned any notices be sent by formal means i. by personal delivery, ii. overnight courier, iii. telecopy, iv. registered mail) "cease and desist notice" saying it blatant breach of non-confidentiality agreement and that:
- Remove all the information related to work from any public or non-public websites including any job sites.
- Complete removal of all intellectual property, documents, software code and/or any other information related to the work you performed for Company B while being employed with Company A. (...)
- Completely stop discussing about the work, our trade secrets, our technological approaches or anything that you performed for us while employed at Company B with any individual or any entity anywhere in the world
This was sent with a pdf attachment of my LinkedIn profile.
I was given only 24 hours to respond to it (not enough time to consult any lawyers or such). And there was threatening wording in the lines of:
"You will not receive another cease and desist letter from this office. Should you fail to produce a confirmation in writing within twenty-four (24) hours, a lawsuit against you will be commenced immediately in the County of Santa Clara, California regardless of where or which country you are currently residing and company will pursue maximum penalty for disclosing our competitive and intellectual property information publicly or non-publicly."
Which I felt to mean doesn't matter where you go we will be vindictive if need be and make sure you stay silenced.
I didn't want to antagonize them, comply with what they said and to have my energy rather be directed to sustain myself in a new Country than anything else. So removed all the details from the LinkedIn profile and sent a polite mail saying I removed the reference with pdf of the LinkedIn profile with details removed.
But then also get sent another email reply asking me to send a signed letter with compliance with remaining items too in the cease and desist letter including non-solicitation of the team (this addendum was not there in the letter at all).
I actually don't want to sign anything further anymore (and more soever 24 hours of an unreasonable deadline suggests they want me to consult a lawyer and do so). I would greatly appreciate any advice on:
- How to protect myself now. What are the steps I should be taking.
- This is severely limiting my ability to search for jobs and find gainful employment to sustain myself in a new country.
- Leave even finding gainful employment, my mental peace and the constant cloud of legal threat is a bit stressing and taking a toll on my mental health. I actually don't want to cause harm to their product or future or whatever, I just want them to leave me alone and have me pursue my future in my own terms. Is there any legal recourse I can take that would help me so.