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Disclosing companies' names
Thread poster: Alžbeta Takácsová

Alžbeta Takácsová  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 23:13
Member (2014)
English to Slovak
+ ...
Feb 23, 2017

Hello everyone,

as part of my marketing I am thinking of a list of companies I have worked for. Can I used names, no specific products nor confidential information, of companies I have done some job for but via translation agencies? Is this allowed?
Thanks for comments
Alžbeta


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:13
French to English
Depends Feb 23, 2017

You will need to check the confidentiality clauses of the agreements you had with each of the various agencies for each of the companies concerned. There is usually a restriction, but sometimes a time limit. Also, you need to consider the law of the country you are intending to market yourself in.

 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:13
German to English
The agency is your client Feb 23, 2017

You could potentially get into trouble by disclosing the names of your agency's clients.

A much better approach might be to list "Projects for Fortune 500 company in the automotive sector" or "Documents pertaining to safety procedures in production of pharmaceuticals", or "SAP documentation for major logistics company".

Furthermore, potential clients are looking for subject-matter expertise and generally don't care who the end client was for your projects.


 

Graeme Waller  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 00:13
Finnish to English
+ ...
It can all get a bit complicated. Feb 23, 2017

Most NDAs (nondisclosure agreements) do not allow disclosure of the names of end clients, at least during the time you have a contract with them, sometimes for a specific period after your contract has terminated, and some indefinitely.

In theory, you can use the names of direct clients, but in that case I would make sure I had documents to prove the direct relationship as well as the direct client’s permission.





[Edited at 2017-02-23 14:08 GMT]


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
ask Feb 23, 2017

I also think it would be better to check not your contracts, but clients--just ask.
Some corporate clients allow their TM/logos, but it depends.

As for 'nameless names' (weasel words, prevarications, doublespeaks, and little white lies), it's a kind of a misleading solicitation absurd, such a pseudo-marketing gibberish, which implies something in the nature of big lies and malpractice.
Just watch it for there's no "alternative facts"!


If it's so 'confidential' (cannot be dis/proved), then allegedly EVERY translator is working with some client (who somehow may) relate to (an alternative) Fortune 500, why? One who uses MS Windows would have a right to state he is doing biz with Fortune 500 company in the IT, because Microsoft is surely there)

Trust, but verify!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:13
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Can you prove who you worked for? Feb 23, 2017

I know it's pushing things, but can you actually be sure which end clients you've worked for? I mean, you might have translated a press release for Danone, or a phone manual for Samsung, but how do you know who commissioned that translation? Couldn't it have been one of their competitors? Or a university wanting to use it for teaching purposes, or... ? You could end up with a considerable amount of egg on your face if one of their employees came across your statement and started investigating.

That's unlikely but what I'm saying really is that IMHO it isn't a good idea to claim anything that isn't the absolute and incontrovertibly provable facts of the matter. You know you worked with Agency A because you had agreements with them, sent them invoices, etc. Apart from the subject matter, that's often all you know for sure.

Personally, I get very tired of the endless lists of names and logos. Is a potential client supposed to be in awe of these names? Or are they far more focused on what you can do for them? So, yes, they need to know that you've translated press releases or phone manuals if that's what they need. And if they're in dairy products or mobile phones then they'll be interested in learning that you're well versed in the terminology of their sector. But why do you feel the need to name-drop?


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Use common sense Feb 23, 2017

Translators here seem to be somewhat overobsessed with NDAs.

Obviously you should never disclose sensitive information, or steal end-customers unless the agency deserves it, but I fail to see how disclosing the fact that you have translated something for Company X can possibly do anyone any harm.

Especially if it's a large multinational like Coca-Cola served by numerous translation companies, or if you did the work a long time ago.

I've sometimes had to say things like "Sweden's largest carmaker" or "probably the best brewer in Denmark" but who am I trying to kid?

Of course, with everything safely wrapped up in those precious NDAs, nobody can prove or disprove anything anyway, so you could just as easily name random companies and nobody would ever be any the wiser. Just like writing a CV.


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:13
French to English
Care and attention Feb 24, 2017

DZiW wrote:

I also think it would be better to check not your contracts, but clients--just ask.
Some corporate clients allow their TM/logos, but it depends.



If you work with agencies, you have legal obligations towards them as the agency is your client. The end-client is not your client, even if you have direct contact with them during a job obtained via an agency. Non-disclosure is almost always mentionned, some require a separate document to be signed. Further, even if a contract were to be silent on this point, there is a strong chance the law of the country has legislation on the subject.

When it comes to end clients, then the only way you can find out is to ask. Keep a written trace of your request and of their answer.

Kevin Fulton wrote:

A much better approach might be to list "Projects for Fortune 500 company in the automotive sector" or "Documents pertaining to safety procedures in production of pharmaceuticals", or "SAP documentation for major logistics company".



Nice way round it.


[Edited at 2017-02-24 16:32 GMT]


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
roundabout Feb 24, 2017

Nikky, that’s why clever translators either don’t work with ‘noname’ middlemen-of-middlemen (agencies), or, if do, then smartly delete silly/unwanted clauses/terms, adding something to their liking. It’s an agreement–a win-win deal–not an ultimatum or a dirty rip-off!

How about evasive “I work with top-best-biggest Fortune 500 and worldwide companies, but I won’t tell you!”, what is the purpose of utterance? If one is to impress a prospective customer, then he must provide specific (and verifiable!) names–with details and exact results, not to mention the references; or don’t mention it.
Although big names might impress naïve people, only the translation quality (result) matters.

As for me, I don’t see how an alleged relation to an ephemeral unnamed entity differs from pure inventions–for it's still but a lie, empty talks, let alone how it may improve assumed qualifications.

Take care


 

Alžbeta Takácsová  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 23:13
Member (2014)
English to Slovak
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
only the name Feb 24, 2017

Hello everyone who had the minute to leave a comment here,

thank you so much for all your replies.
I have gone back to some NDAs and I must say none of them expressly say: you are not allowed to disclose the name of client! Yes, they say that we cannot disclose any of the sensitive data, inventions etc., but not the name.
How could actually an agency got to know I have XY logo on my website or in my CV? What would the agency claim? The agency cannot proof I have translated for XY only via them. It could have been other agency. Or how could possibly XY know I am using their logo on my website or CV? Ok, they find it. And? What would be the actual harm?
Just too many questions around this issue still not answered.

Thank you again,
Alžbeta

[Edited at 2017-02-24 20:06 GMT]


 

dropinka  Identity Verified
Italy
English to Italian
+ ...
Names and logos Feb 24, 2017

As regards names, I think you need to examine NDAs very carefully (I even hired a lawyer to do that!) as well as check directly with agencies (i.e. ask them explicitly whether you are allowed to mention end clients on your CV etc.).

As far as I know, using logos is a different kettle of fish -- companies give their permission under very rare circumstances. I would not recommend using them.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:13
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Yes Feb 25, 2017

Alžbeta Takácsová wrote:
Can I used names ... of companies I have done some job for via translation agencies?


If it is generally known that those companies produce materials in your target language, then I don't see a problem. In fact, I think it would be acceptable to mention very broadly what type of material you translated (e.g. "marketing text for Coca-Cola" or "user manuals for Xerox").


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:13
French to English
Use of logos, client names and end-clients Feb 25, 2017

Using a logo that is not your own requires permission for reasons of intellectual property.

When advertising one's services, if you say that you have worked for company X and that company was a direct client, obtaining their permission so say so in publicity material would be a matter of courtesy. Many would probably be only too happy for you to do so. If you wish to use the company's logo, I'd increase the level of precaution and be careful to make sure I have written permission. Intellectual property is a complex area.

The trickiest situation would be to publicise that you worked for company Y, but that company was in fact an end-client worked for via an agency. It boils down to it being untrue when you say that company was a client; it was not. You could end up in trouble with the agency and/or the end-client in question for the reasons others have explained here. Saying you worked for X as a direct client is a fact; saying you worked for Y is a half-truth. If you go ahead anyway, then it is quite possible they might never find out, or perhaps not actually bother that much. You simply need to decide whether the risk outweighs the benefit.

The worst case scenario would be to use an end-client's logo on your website without having sought and obtained their permission. Chances are they might never find out, or perhaps not even care if they did find out. If you do so, you simply have to bear in mind that the risk is there.

The solution to consider might be to ask permission, particularly for the logo. For the end-clients, why not simply say you worked for agency X, include a link and leave the potential new client to see the caliber of the agencies that have trusted you with client whose logos they often post, having obtained the permission to do so.

[Edited at 2017-02-25 13:50 GMT]


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:13
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Some clients might not like to know you work for their competitors Feb 26, 2017

In some industries, branding is very important, and most clients will want you to use their specific terminology and house style, so naming a client may not necessarily attract others in the same business or industry.

The first 'complaint' I ever had was from a client who said I had obviously done my homework up to a point, but my translation sounded far too like the client's biggest competitor! He was very kind, and talked me through the text on the phone, so I understood how to get it to sound like their brand, and I learnt a lot.

The generic major manufacturers of whatever they make, pharmaceuticals, dairy products, fashion ... may be your best bet if you are trying to attract new clients in the same industry or business.

Another side of it is that some clients are extremely sensitive about trade secrets. Of course, you should never disclose anything sensitive about your clients, and naming them should make no difference in practice, but others might just be wary about sharing a translator with a major competitor, I don't know.

By naming a client, you are in a way declaring your loyalty to them. In fact a freelancer has to be loyal to all clients and keep them in separate compartments. But if you openly said you worked for a big name, would its greatest rival want to entrust its sensitive documents to you?

Expertise in the field is obviously necessary, and clients can work out that you possibly work for their competitors - where else could you have you acquired your expertise? But openly declaring who you work for might put others off as much as attract them in some sectors!

It's just a thought.


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:13
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
But who IS the end client? Feb 26, 2017

When working for agencies I rarely if ever know for certain who the end client is. For example, a document about a computer games manufacturer may be for that manufacturer, its lawyers, its opponents in a lawsuit, a dissatisfied customer, a rival firm - I might be able to guess but I don't know.
The agency rarely tells me who the end client is and I don't ask, so even if I wanted to cite the names of end clients in my CV, I couldn't.
Is it usual for a translator to know the identity of end clients? Not in my experience.


 
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