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Have you ever thought of the safety of your contracts when shipping from China? It’s good to learn the differences between NDA vs NNN to get familiar with various aspects of non-disclosure agreements.

If you’re a beginner, you have to know how to protect your business information while you’re dealing with other parties. In this blog post, we’re going to explain everything about NDA and NNN and the way these agreements help you in this regard.

If you have more questions about the details of non-disclosure agreements, you can easily contact our experts to get help.

What Is an NDA?

NDA stands for Non-Disclosure Agreement and is a vital document in every international business, especially importing from China.

Remember that you have to prevent your competitors from knowing about the details of your agreements. Safeguarding sensitive business information is possible using NDAs.

An NDA is actually a confidentiality agreement and is a legally binding contract. Its purpose is to restrict the disclosure of your confidential information to third parties.

Here are three types of NDAs:

  1. Unilateral NDA: One party shares information with another party.
  1. Bilateral NDA: Two parties agree to share information.
  1. Multilateral NDA: Three or more parties share information.

Each type of NDA serves various purposes and is used in different businesses. Overall, parties in an NDA should avoid disclosing the details of the deal with other businesses outside of the deal.

Advantages of NDA Agreements

NDAs have lots of benefits for your business. Here are some of the most important pros of NDAs when shipping from China:

  1. Safeguarding Confidential Information: As said earlier, NDAs restrict the disclosure of your information. Therefore, you can make sure that your trade secrets, inventions, customer lists, marketing strategies, or any other confidential data will not be disclosed.
  1. Building Business Relationships: When parties are confident about their business secrets, they feel free to share ideas with partners, investors, vendors, or even freelancers. This way, you can build stronger business partnerships.
  1. Protecting USPs from Competitors: Your Unique Selling Points are important because they make you better than your competitors. NDAs allow you to talk about these prepositions in your deals without worrying about their disclosure. 
  1. Setting Legal Consequences for Disclosure: In NDAs, you clearly explain your expectations about confidential information. So if you see a breach, the NDA lets you hold the violating party accountable.
  1. Bringing Peace of Mind:  NDAs add an extra layer of security to your shipping contract. This allows you to be relaxed and freely share information during negotiations.

When to Use NDA 

Let’s suppose that you want to import electronic devices from China and sell them in your country. If you’ve found a manufacturer and want to ship its product to your country, you have to know when to use NDAs:

  • Negotiating with the Manufacturer: When you talk to the manufacturer, you have to protect sensitive information about specifications, designs, pricing, branding strategy, target market, etc.
  • Employee Onboarding: New employees often handle confidential information. An NDA ensures new employees understand their obligations about sensitive information.
  • Shipping Contract: When you want to ship the product from China, you have to make sure that the shipping company doesn’t share your information with competitors.

Legal Aspects of NDA Agreements

When you’re buying products from a Chinese manufacturer, they sign an NDA to ensure the confidentiality of the device’s design and production processes.

Here are some important aspects of the agreements:

  1. Duration: The NDA specifies the duration of the confidentiality period. For example, they might expect 5 years for electronic devices.
  2. Exceptions: They might determine some exceptions for publicly available information and also for pre-existing data.
  1. Scope: You need to clearly determine the scope of confidentiality. In fact, you need to clarify what information should be confidential.

What Is an NNN?

A Non-Use, Non-Disclosure, Non-Circumvent (NNN) Agreement is a legal contract that offers more robust confidentiality compared with NDA.

Here’s what it means:

  • Non-Disclosure: Just like NDA, business parties are prohibited from sharing information with any third party.
  • Non-Use: The manufacturer cannot use your customized order for their own benefit or even create similar products and sell them to your competitors
  • Non-Circumvent: This means that your manufacturer cannot sell the product directly to your competitors.

As you can see, NNNs put extra layers of security on the contract compared with NDAs.

Advantages of NNN Agreements

NNN agreements have many benefits. Here are some of their pros:

  • Comprehensive Safeguards: They combine Non-Disclosure, Non-Use, and Non-Circumvention agreements.
  • Reducing the Risk of IP Theft: NNNs restrict how the manufacturer can use your information. Therefore, they reduce the risk of your intellectual property (IP) being stolen. 
  • Stronger Negotiation Position: When you want an NNN agreement, you’re actually showing the importance of your ideas and your commitment to protecting them. This way, you’ll demonstrate a stronger hand during negotiations with manufacturers.
  • Clear Expectations: NNN agreements promote transparency of your deal. So they can help prevent misunderstandings or disputes in the future.

When to Use NNN

Now that you know what NNNs are, it’s good to see when we need them. Imagine if you want to import an electronic device from China.

If it has highly sensitive intellectual property, you’d better use a NNN. In fact, if the product design or technology is customized or highly innovative, an NNN agreement offer is necessary. This way, you make sure that your product will not be copied by your competitors.

Also, NNN agreements are beneficial when you want to deal with foreign manufacturers. The reason is that they might have different legal systems and NNNs can protect your rights in their countries. Last but not least, NNNs are necessary in long-term partnerships.

Legal Aspects of NNN Agreements

You need to consider some aspects of NNNs in your deals. First, you need to define confidentiality clearly.

For example, you have to insist on schematics, designs, and manufacturing processes for the electronic devices you have ordered.

Duration is also another legal aspect of NNNs. Some agreements last for 5 or more years. You also need to pay attention to exceptions for publicly known information or legal requirements.

Legal Aspects of NNN Agreements

You need to consider some aspects of NNNs in your deals. First, you need to define confidentiality clearly.

For example, you have to insist on schematics, designs, and manufacturing processes for the electronic devices you have ordered.

Duration is also another legal aspect of NNNs. Some agreements last for 5 or more years. You also need to pay attention to exceptions for publicly known information or legal requirements.

NDA vs. NNN: Key Differences Between NDA and NNN

Here is a summary of the main differences of NDA and NNN:

FocusConfidentiality of informationConfidentiality, Non-Use, Non-Circumvention
Scope of ProtectionNarrowerBroader
Information SharingRestricts disclosure of confidential informationRestricts disclosure, use, and attempts to bypass you in deals
Ideal Use CasesLess sensitive information, short-term collaborationsHighly sensitive IP, foreign manufacturers, long-term collaborations
ComplexitySimpler, lower costMore complex, potentially higher cost

Top 3 Tips for Drafting an Effective NDA

Here are some important points you need to consider when writing an NDA:

  1. Clearly Define Confidential Information: You must make sure that there is no room for misinterpretation. Try to list specific types of information that might be considered confidential. For example, mention product designs, marketing plans, or customer lists.
  1. Specify the Terms and Exceptions: Work on all details like the duration for confidentiality, any exceptions, and other conditions you consider important.
  1. Detail Remedies for Breach: Try to clarify what happens if your NDA is violated. For example, seeking a court order or suing for financial damages should be mentioned in your contract.

How to Secure Your IP Across Borders with NDA and NNN Contracts

Here are what you have to secure your IP in international trade:

  • Contracts: Use NDAs for basic info and short-term agreements and NNNs for high-value IP and foreign partners.
  • Technology: It’s good to use secure e-signature platforms for legally binding contracts.
  • Consult a Lawyer: You must ensure that agreements comply with international IP law.
  • Research Local IP Laws: Get yourself familiar with enforcement options in your partner’s country.
  • Communicate Clearly: You have to communicate clearly when it comes to IP expectations.
  • Explore Registration: Think about registering your IP (patents, trademarks) in your partner’s country.

What Happens if You Break an NDA and NNN?

Of course, breaking an NDA or NNN can have serious consequences for you. For example, if you signed an NDA with a designer for your new gadget, you have to avoid revealing their design.

If you disclose their design parties, especially a competitor, they could sue you for financial damages.

On the other hand, NNNs add another layer to the deal. In this case, the designer can’t use your customized idea to create his/her own gadget or sell it to other distributors. So in NNNs, both sides can face costly consequences if they breach an agreement.


Confidentiality is of paramount importance in international trade. NDAs and NNNs are legal contracts that prevent parties from revealing the terms of the deal. NNNs are stronger because they prevent the manufacturer from selling the product to other distributors. If you want to ship products from China, you need to know the difference between these agreements. DDPCH is an experienced company in shipping and assures you to have the best agreement. So why wait, contact us now.

Here are some common questions people ask about NDA vs. NNN:

What does NDA stand for?

NDA stands for Non-Disclosure Agreement.

Which one is more robust: NDA or NNN?

NNN is more robust because it has two extra terms: Non-Use and Non-Cercumvent.

What should I mention in NDAs and NNNs?

You have to consider all the details like duration, confidentiality terms like design, customers, marketing strategy, etc. Also, you have to determine exceptions and remedies.

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