If your company has trade secrets, it’s obviously important that they stay secret.
That means taking the proper steps to ensure your information doesn’t fall into the public arena.
If you don’t take the correct action to protect your trade secrets, you have no right to complain if someone steals them.
What are trade secrets?
Basically, trade secrets are intellectual property rights on your business’s confidential information that will be sold or licensed.
For many legal intellectual property rights, you can get protection via patents, copyright, and trademarks.
To learn more about how to grow your business with innovative intellectual property solutions, check out this insightful article at Heer Law.
However, unlike things like logos, trade secrets aren’t actually protected by patents, copyright, and trademarks. The reason is this: the central point of trade secrets is they are kept confidential. If you patent or trademark secret information, it won’t remain secret for very long.
Trade secrets can be protected for an unlimited period; until the information is disclosed to the public or legally acquired by others.
To qualify as a trade secret, the information must generally be commercially valuable due to its secrecy, be subject to reasonable steps taken by the business owner to maintain the information’s confidentiality, and be known to only a limited number of people.
Examples of trade secrets include formulas, patterns, apps, devices, methods, and processes. For example, a formula could relate to a new soft drink or cleaning product and a pattern could refer to the pattern for making a new design of sneakers.
Now, let’s take a look at three ways in which you can protect your company’s trade secrets.
Use Confidentiality Agreements
The most common way of ensuring your trade secrets stay legally confidential is to use a confidentiality agreement or a non-disclosure agreement.
The contract is a legal document that stipulates all parties who have knowledge of the trade secrets and sign the agreement do not disclose the information.
Such agreements can be used as a legal binding between your company and your employees, vendors, contract workers, and others who are privy to your confidential information.
The agreement should describe in detail which information is to be kept secret. It should also specify the time period for the secrecy.
Put Appropriate Security Measures in Place
Confidentiality agreements are undoubtedly the best way of ensuring everyone who has access to trade secrets does not divulge them, but it’s also crucial that you take steps for your secrets’ physical and cyber security.
You need to put security protocols in place for employees and visitors, and use surveillance and security monitoring methods, to ensure no one steals physical information pertaining to your trade secrets.
Put Protocols in Place and Train Your Team in Confidentiality
Lastly, to ensure your company’s trade secrets remain confidential, it’s vital that you train everyone who has access to the information.
You need to show examples of when they could mistakenly let something slip so that they can stop it from happening and go through all of the protocols you have in place to ensure confidentiality.
Each member of the team who has authorized access to your trade secrets should know who else does and doesn’t have knowledge of the trade secrets.
You should also ensure those with access to the confidential information only talk about it in designated safe places.
The more protocols you put in place and the more thorough training you provide, the more you can be sure your trade secrets will remain secret; until it’s time for the secrets to be disclosed, such as when a new product is ready to be launched.