I've found that some companies are very much against the individual and want indefinite confidentiality clauses.

I'm happy to sign a 2 year clause but an indefinite one is sickening to me. I'm working in medical devices not the CIA and ideas could be used elsewhere to save patient lives.

I have pushed back on the duration but the company is sticking with FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Surely the law should be there to prevent morally bankrupt practices and intellectual enslavement?

Is an indefinite duration of confidentiality actually legal in the civilian sector? Is there anything I can do to push back on an indefinite duration of confidentiality?

FYI; I'm in the EU but the company is a US multinational.

  • 1
    In what location? – George White Jan 2 at 1:09
  • I'm in the EU but the company is a US multinational. – SeanJ Jan 2 at 1:20


Of course, the period is not actually "indefinite" - it has a definite end: the date of your death. It also has another (unstated) endpoint: the point at which the information ceases to be confidential other than through your breach: for example if published in a patent application.

The correct legal term here is not "indefinite"; its "forever" or "perpetually". I prefer forever because perpetually technically means "all the time" rather than "neverending". However, documents commonly use “indefinite” when they mean “forever” so there is unlikely to be grounds to dispute the interpretation.

Under US law there is no prohibition on perpetuities as there is in most common law jurisdictions (80 years is typical) so this contract is totally legit.

As for the law preventing "morally bankrupt practices and intellectual enslavement"; it does: you don't have to enter this contract if you don't want to.

  • as an engineer very little options in that regard. I could refuse to sign after accepting the job and become employed and keep rejecting jobs in search of one that had a decent confidentiality clause. Lawyers are not inventive and thus enforce laws that will never apply to them, i.e. corporate watch dogs. I view it as cruel and unusual punishment, similar to the oath of allegiance to the British monarchy. – SeanJ Jan 2 at 8:32
  • 1
    @SeanJ I respect your moral stance - only you can decide what it’s worth – Dale M Jan 2 at 10:54
  • in germany, a contract with "infinite" length is void. – Trish Jan 3 at 16:53

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