Trade secrets give a company a competitive edge over its competitors. A trade secret could be a formula, pattern, device, or compilation of information. Common trade secrets include customer lists, pricing information, training materials, and marketing strategies. While legal protections can help remedy a situation if confidential trade secrets are leaked to outsiders, the best plan is to keep such information confidential. Here’s how.
Identify your company’s trade secrets and mark them.
In order to protect your company’s trade secrets, you must first identify them. To do so, consider the information’s value, whether it is known outside the company, and the damage that could be done if the information landed in a competitor’s hands. Consider how much effort went into creating the information and how difficult it would be for other companies to duplicate those efforts.
Institute a uniform system for marking trade secret documents. Each document should be marked with the company’s name and a notation that the document is confidential and that disclosure is prohibited.
Create an employment policy and a confidentiality agreement that will protect your trade secrets.
Work with an attorney to create a trade secret protection policy. This policy should explain how an employee should recognize a trade secret, what steps should be taken to protect the trade secret from disclosure, and the consequences associated with the disclosure of a trade secret. Employees, third parties, and contractors who have access to a company’s most valuable trade secrets should be required to sign confidentiality agreements that obligate them to keep the company’s trade secrets confidential.
Educate employees about trade secrets and monitor their adherence to the policy. When an employee leaves, schedule an exit interview to remind the employee of his legal obligations to keep the company’s trade secrets confidential and to collect all documents relating to the company that the employee has.
Limit access to trade secrets to those employees with a need to know.
By restricting access to trade secrets, a company reduces its exposure. If an employee does not need to know certain information in order to perform his job, he should not have access to that information. Utilize password-protected programs and systems. Store hard copies and computer storage media in locked cabinets.
Call Dallas intellectual property litigation lawyer Mazin A. Sbaiti if you’re in a dispute over trade secrets.
Call Dallas intellectual property lawyer Mazin A. Sbaiti at 214-432-2899 or fill out an online contact form to discuss an intellectual property dispute. Your company’s trade secrets are essential to your continued success, so don’t delay in responding to a threat to the intellectual property foundations of your business.