How to Protect Your Company’s Trade Secrets

The importance of protecting your company’s trade secrets cannot be overemphasized. Trade secrets are the reason behind your company’s success. The continued success of your business will depend primarily on your ability to keep this information from your competitors’ hands. While there are certain laws that protect intangible assets such as trade secrets, you and your associates must do your part too. Here are a few tips on how to protect your company’s trade secrets. 

1. Identify Your Trade Secrets

What are your trade secrets? By definition, a trade secret is any business or technical information that has commercial value, such as a certain formula, program, pattern, method, device, process, or technique. Once you identify this information, you should mark it as confidential. Some companies take an extra step of incorporating additional markings to distinguish the trade secret from other confidential information. 

2. Limit Access 

Once you have identified your trade secrets, the next step is to restrict access to this information. A general rule of thumb is to disclose it on a “need to know” basis. Only those who need this information to perform their duties should have access to it. You can achieve access control through things such as data segregation, encryption, passwords, and physical security. 

3. Educate Employees About Protecting Trade Secrets

Your staff may not understand the significance of trade secrets to your business. It is up to you to educate them about the confidential information. Each employee should sign a nondisclosure agreement during hiring, preventing him/her from sharing any confidential information of the company. You can also incorporate the nondisclosure agreement into a general employment agreement. 

4. Maintain Computer Secrecy

Access to trade secrets contained in computer files should be limited to authorized employees. You can accomplish this by giving a password to each employee, and then allowing only certain passwords access to confidential files. You may also want to physically isolate computer discs, tapes, and other storage media and lock them up in the same way as restricted files. 

5. Control Public Access to Your Facilities

Trade secrets are not always contained in documents and computer files. Some can be seen by anyone walking through your facilities. For example, the type of machinery you use, manufacturing techniques, and the physical handling of materials and finished products during the manufacturing process. 

Others may be readily accessible to anyone walking through your premises via unattended wastebaskets, documents left in plain sight, and overheard conversations. A good way to protect your trade secrets is by having all visitors wear a visitor’s pass and sign in with a guard or receptionist when entering the facilities. A company representative should accompany visitors to sensitive areas of the company and educate them about their obligation to keep restricted information in confidence. 

When your trade secrets leak, it could seriously jeopardize the success of your company. Consulting an experienced attorney can help you come up with a solid plan to protect confidential information and keep it out of your competitors’ hands. For further assistance, contact the Amsberry Law Firm today at (210) 354-2244.

Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in family and labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also active in family law, estate and elder law, and business law. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.

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