How Do I Protect My Company’s Trade Secrets?

A trade secret refers to any information your company owns that has economic value, is not known by the public, and has been reasonably protected from being released to the masses. If this data were to become known, it could have massive consequences for your company.

Unsure how to protect your company’s trade secrets? Steps are available to avoid everything from cyberattacks to the unwitting, accidental release of confidential information. A dedicated intellectual property attorney could help you manage these risks.

Assess Vulnerabilities

The first step in this process is to carefully evaluate risks. There are countless vulnerabilities to be aware of and each of them must be addressed. This can involve physical threats, like easy access to the business by the public. It might also involve intangible considerations, like poor cyber security.

The company should also have proper control of internal issues, including the potential for disgruntled or untrustworthy employees to access the business’s most sensitive data.

Before any further steps are taken, management should identify, label, and secure any assets or intellectual property they want to protect. Having a clear understanding of what is to be kept out of the hands of the public is vital to protecting your success.

Implement Policies and Procedures

Handbooks full of procedures and policies might seem tedious, but creating a structure for a business and expecting employees to follow it is crucial for protecting confidential material. It is not enough to write a set of rules; there must also be a strategy for ensuring workers comply.

When it comes to employees who handle sensitive information, an important consideration is a non-disclosure agreement. Adding this language to an employment contract provides serious consequences if a person shares trade secrets, including after they leave the company.

Another way to protect a company is by crafting policies regarding the return of corporate property. For example, there should be a process for returning laptops or other equipment prior to a person’s final day at work.

Control Access to Trade Secrets and Information

Only so many people with a business need access to the most sensitive data or trade secrets to do their work. Restricting everyone else’s access to this information is a critical step to limit the potential for a harmful leak.

Both physical and electronic access are important to consider, which means locking doors and erecting barriers to keep people out of the same physical space as the sensitive, proprietary material. Protecting against unauthorized access using a computer or some other digital is also a valuable way of protecting trade secrets.

Having an Incident Plan

Taking the appropriate steps can usually prevent the spread of proprietary information. Yet there should also be a plan for cases when these systems fail. Contacting legal counsel right away is a must, and documenting what happened and collecting evidence related to the breach is vital. This could be invaluable for future litigation.

It is important to move quickly in these situations. In some cases, it might be possible to recover the data before it is shared broadly.

Talk to an Attorney About Protecting Your Company’s Trade Secrets

You have options when it comes to protecting your company’s trade secrets. One of the most important actions you can take is relying on the guidance of legal counsel with business experience. Our intellectual property lawyers could guide you through this process, so call today for a private consultation on the best ways to protect trade secrets.