Most modern companies are too busy engineering next-gen solutions or brokering synergistic mergers to give much thought to that routine piece of paper that they forward on to potential partners: the ever-constant non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Yet, the ability to implement, search, track, link and quickly refer to these contracts is key to future business success. Technology today is only as strong as we’ve protected it for tomorrow.

According to the 2017 US Intellectual Property Commission Report, the annual cost to the economy of trade secrets theft could be as high as $600 billion1. However, it is not theft if your engineer shared the information based on an expired NDA, an NDA that doesn’t cover that specific area of technology, nor an NDA that no one can locate due to poor process management.

Fortunately for FuelCell Energy, Inc., Associate Counsel Henry Sire recognized the need for a dynamic, intuitive and customizable tool for NDAs. FuelCell Energy, Inc. is the largest publicly-traded fuel cell manufacturer in the United States. Founded over 50 years ago, it serves the growing demand for clean, renewable energy based on natural and bio-gas.

“Our company is very tech-heavy, working on a lot of R&D and our discussions with anyone need to be covered under NDA. But the process had so many problems. We had no idea what NDAs we had, when they expired and if we were still talking with those outside parties with information that might no longer be covered. These are large, very sophisticated partners, they could have theoretically started developing the technology themselves and it would have been our own fault. We didn’t need a folder to store these documents; we needed contract management software that tracked, alerted, automatically generated contracts, recorded, assigned ownership, linked every NDA to the requester and established a process that left no room for questions,” Henry explains.

In 2016, after a rigorous review of 17 potential vendors, FuelCell Energy selected Agiloft to implement a fully-customized, intuitive and attractively priced solution for NDA management and all future legal contracts.

Henry shares, “Ultimately, it came down to Agiloft’s extraordinary customization and its versatility. Unlike a lot of other companies, it was not an NDA-specific application. Down the road, we can extend the solution to other areas. Agiloft had the functionality to do everything we needed now and in the future. Also, the price was great, and it has saved the team an intangible amount of time. Beyond this, the new approach, enabled by the Agiloft system, has allowed us to nip requests that came through from unscrupulous partners. We’ve created a process by which we have prevented bad business dealings while increasing our compliance.”

To learn more about how FuelCell Energy took control of their IP protection, read our case study The Brightest Idea Is a Protected Idea: