You have spent countless hours building your business from the ground up. One important part of this was coming up with your trade secrets: The secret pieces of information that help your business stay a step ahead of competitors.
Trade secrets are some of a company’s most valuable resources. But all too often, the confidentiality of trade secrets may come under attack. A competitor my search for a way to replicate or steal them; a former employee may share them with another employer, or use them to start his own business. In an often-cutthroat business world, it is crucial to know a few solid strategies to protect your company’s trade secrets.
1. Create a written policy
Every company should have a written policy addressing its trade secrets. There are a few main points that this document should include:
- How to securely store trade secrets
- The measures taken to protect trade secrets
- Training for employees on identifying and handling trade secrets
- Disciplinary action for employees who violate these policies
2. Consider NDAs and confidentiality agreements
Sometimes, it is necessary to reveal trade secrets to people with whom you work. In these situations, you need a way to share the information without it leaking. One of the best ways to prevent trade secrets from leaking is to use legal documents like non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality agreements. They can be particularly useful when working with a third party like a vendor that you might not know very well. When composed by an attorney in a way that is legally enforceable, these agreements can provide much-needed peace of mind about your secrets’ safety.
3. Take legal action
Let’s say that even after signing a non-disclosure agreement, someone has leaked one of your trade secrets. It may be necessary to take civil action against the perpetrator. A lawsuit can be a means of penalizing the leaker and receiving compensation for damages caused by their actions. But civil action can also be a deterrent for other would-be thieves who are considering using your trade secrets. Being on the receiving end of a public legal battle, bad press and potentially-heavy damages would make anyone think twice about taking trade secrets.