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A somewhat unusual confidentiality agreement - thoughts please
Thread poster: Elena Volkova

Elena Volkova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:52
English to Russian
+ ...
Nov 14, 2013

An agency, with which I have worked for many years, has signed up a new client and they request me to sign a new confidentiality agreement. It looks fairly standard but contains one condition that I have never come across before: it lists key words (names) and I must never again in the future accept for translation documents that contain these words, from other agencies or direct clients. Notably, the agreement needs to be signed before the translator even gets any project from this new client via that agency.

Has anyone had any experience with such clauses? I am put off by the fact that I am asked to commit to never touch projects related to these names unless they come from this agency or client. But what if I for whatever reason fall out with this agency? What if the agency for whatever reason never actually gives me any projects from this client? To me, it looks like I am giving up quite a lot without any guarantees.

Any thoughts?


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 18:52
German to Swedish
+ ...
Forget it and move on Nov 14, 2013

That's hilarious. Good try!

I hope synonyms are covered?


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Elena Volkova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:52
English to Russian
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TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your response Nov 14, 2013

The key words are names. So I imagine if the client were Microsoft I wouldn't be able to work on other projects containing the words Microsoft, Bill Gates, Windows, etc.

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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 18:52
German to Swedish
+ ...
So Nov 14, 2013

So it wasn't "and" or "the"? How generous.

Tell them to go away.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:52
English to Polish
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Ridiculous Nov 14, 2013

(A much-censored version of my initial reply.)

[Edited at 2013-11-14 18:49 GMT]


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
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Never heard of this before. Nov 14, 2013

I would have thought it would be legally unenforceable as an unfair contract in many jurisdictions.

Assuming you want to continue working for them, I'd politely say you think this is unreasonable. Or just sign the contract and forget about it - they're not going to know if you breach it.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:52
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Too difficult to implement Nov 14, 2013

Elena Volkova wrote:
I must never again in the future accept for translation documents that contain [any of a list of names] from other agencies or direct clients.


Well, there are two questions here, namely (a) do you object to this requirement and (b) do you have the capacity and resources to fulfil this requirement. If you don't have systems in place that will enable you to identify jobs that contain those names, then you should turn down the agreement (or the requirement, at least), even if you have no objection to such a requirement.


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Elena Volkova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:52
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Systems? Nov 14, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:

Well, there are two questions here, namely (a) do you object to this requirement and (b) do you have the capacity and resources to fulfil this requirement. If you don't have systems in place that will enable you to identify jobs that contain those names, then you should turn down the agreement (or the requirement, at least), even if you have no objection to such a requirement.



Thanks Samuel - what systems do you mean? I would have thought, if a new project may contain the 'prohibited' words, then a simple word search would do.

These words are quite specific so wouldn't occur often, if ever.

[Edited at 2013-11-14 19:40 GMT]


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:52
Member (2002)
English to Russian
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MODERATOR
Really hilarious Nov 14, 2013

Elena Volkova wrote:
... it lists key words (names) and I must never again in the future accept for translation documents that contain these words, from other agencies or direct clients.


Does this mean that you are not allowed to translate even a newspaper article where these names are mentioned?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:52
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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I mean, you're just a freelancer Nov 14, 2013

Elena Volkova wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
If you don't have systems in place that will enable you to identify jobs that contain those names, then you should turn down the agreement (or the requirement, at least), even if you have no objection to such a requirement.

What systems do you mean? I would have thought, if a new project may contain the 'prohibited' words, then a simple word search would do.


Well, I suppose you're right, but you're going to have to make sure that you search for the entire list and that you search for it every time you receive a file. Perhaps you can even program your anti-virus to scan for those words in files and flag the file (or bring up a message) as soon as you copy/move/open such a file.


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 18:52
German to Swedish
+ ...
No Nov 14, 2013

Come on now, forget about having anything to do with these folks.

It's not just the laughably absurd term itself. Its very arbitrariness, unproductivity even from the point of view of the other party, and complete unenforcability, indicates that these people are unprofessional in the extreme.

Would you believe in a fruitful long-term business relationship with a utility that said, "we'll give you a great deal on electricity if you give us a notarised undertaking never to use batteries again"?


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Václav Pinkava  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 18:52
Member (2013)
Czech to English
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Too absurd to take lightly Nov 14, 2013

For one thing, people have the same names as others, without being the same people.
Another matter is spelling. Especially transliteration e.g. Chaikowskij, Tchaikovsky, etc.
When is a name the same name, then?

The very idea is so patently crazy, that you should keep away from them. We all should.

If there is a weirdo watchlist, these folks should be on it.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 17:52
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Let's suppose you sign the contract... Nov 14, 2013

... and you use, per chance or not, one or more of their "forbidden" names in some other translation for another client, I wonder how they can prove that you have... Who are they? An intelligence or secret agency? Please someone explain.

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Elena Volkova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:52
English to Russian
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TOPIC STARTER
On the contrary Nov 14, 2013

Joakim Braun wrote:

Come on now, forget about having anything to do with these folks.

It's not just the laughably absurd term itself. Its very arbitrariness, unproductivity even from the point of view of the other party, and complete unenforcability, indicates that these people are unprofessional in the extreme.

Would you believe in a fruitful long-term business relationship with a utility that said, "we'll give you a great deal on electricity if you give us a notarised undertaking never to use batteries again"?


Truth is, I have worked with this agency for many years and they have always been nothing but professional and most pleasant to deal with. Don't want to break a relationship with them at all.


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Elena Volkova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:52
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Probably Nov 14, 2013

Natalie wrote:

Does this mean that you are not allowed to translate even a newspaper article where these names are mentioned?


Suppose so...


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A somewhat unusual confidentiality agreement - thoughts please

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