It is extremely important to ensure that trade secret protection is a priority throughout your company.
Trade secrets are made up of any confidential information that provides a company a competitive advantage… such as ingredients, formulas, manufacturing processes, research, development information, or client lists. For many companies, trade secrets can represent most of their overall value; again, making it extremely important to protect that proprietary information.
We can help you set up trade secret protection and properly secure other sensitive information in your company through employment agreements, non-compete, nondisclosure, or confidentiality agreements.
Below are some procedures that may help you pre-emptively set up trade secret protection:
Designate a Compliance Officer
This individual would be responsible for identifying intellectual property and implementing and enforcing all aspects of your trade secret compliance program, including recordkeeping, distribution and collection of operations manuals, conducting exit interviews, and responding to questions relating to the protection of your trade secrets.
Require Confidentiality Agreements
Make it a company policy to require all key employees, investors (even prospective ones), marketing representatives, and anyone else who has access to your trade secrets to sign a carefully prepared confidentiality agreement.
Limit Disclosure of Confidential Information
Limit the distribution of and access to trade secrets and confidential information. Make sure that only those individuals who have a genuine need to know the information in order to perform their jobs have access to it. The fewer individuals who have access to it, the fewer people who can steal or leak it.
Train Employees on Protection Responsibilities
Make trade-secret protection a part of your employee orientation and training program. Include information on each employee’s duty and legal obligation to protect your trade secrets.
Set up safeguards to prevent third parties from gaining access to trade secrets and confidential information; such as encrypting and securing all digital access to confidential information, restricting access to hard copies of proprietary documents and information, and posting physical signs and notices in all appropriate places.
Conduct Clear Exit Interviews
If, and when, employees are terminated or leave, conduct exit interviews to clearly explain their continuing obligations of confidentiality and to retrieve all copies of the tangible confidential information in their possession; including, all operations manuals, training manuals, software, customer lists, and any other confidential information in their possession. Have your trade-secret compliance officer explain confidentiality responsibilities and respond to any questions former employees may have regarding trade secret and confidentiality issues.
Do not allow your company’s value to walk out the door! Take a few steps to proactively set up a trade secret protection program. This will keep your proprietary information safe, protect your assets, and maximize the value of your company.
If you need help establishing the pre-emptive steps for trade secret protection or need assistance litigating trade secret theft, then we can help.