JPL encourages the exchange of information as part of its effort to apply the full resources of science and technology to the work it performs. Some information, however, cannot be freely disseminated or used because of its proprietary nature. Examples include unreported new technology from JPL work and information considered proprietary by outside organizations with whom JPL works. JPL, Caltech Campus, or Government proprietary information that cannot be released until authorized by the Caltech Patents Office includes, but is not limited to, inventions, software, discoveries, improvements, or innovations that were conceived or first reduced to practice in the performance of work by an employee in the line of duty or with the use of JPL or Campus facilities. This could involve a scientific discovery, new or improved product, material, process, machine, apparatus, device, fixture, hand tool, etc.
In performing JPL work, you may be asked by an outside organization to sign an agreement not to disclose that organization's proprietary information. Such agreements should not be signed unless approved in advance by the Caltech Patents Office. This office may require that Caltech's nondisclosure agreement be used. Proprietary information is a valuable business asset for outside organizations. Once signed, nondisclosure agreements constitute binding commitments that could result in serious legal consequences and loss of credibility for you and JPL, and the possibility of severe financial damage to the outside organization, if they are violated. (For additional information, contact your supervisor, your section or group's New Technology Monitor, the Patents Office, or an Ethics Advisor.)