Heritage Law Group
7 Ways To Protect Your Trade Secrets
Your business wasn’t built overnight. You have worked hard to create a business that is unique in its industry. Don’t let poor management of your trade secrets destroy all of the hard work that you have put into your business. Follow these 7 tips to keep your trade secrets safe.
1. Identify Your Trade Secret
The first, and most important step in protecting your trade secrets is to know what they are. We work with many business owners that believe that all of their daily activities are trade secrets, but this isn’t the case.
A trade secret is defined as, any information you would not what your competitors to have. This can be anything from customer information, business plans, pricing, formulas, and other things of this matter.
2. Take Measures To Keep It A Secret
This may seem obvious, but this is one thing that many business owners overlook. To keep your trade secrets secret, your employees and staff will need to be told they are a secret.
Protecting your trade secrets is not something that can be done just once, it needs to be employed throughout everything you do. When you are in a suit involving a stolen secret, the court will generally look at your business practices for the following:
- Effort taken to keep information secret
- Extent to which the information is known in society, or outside of the business
- The value of the stolen information
- How much that secret is known within the company
The following tips on how will better illustrate examples of how your business can go about keeping your trade secrets confidential.
3. Catalogue Your Trade Secrets
One of the best ways to start protecting your business’s trade secrets is to create a catalogue. Creating a single document or filing a cabinet with all documents that pertain to your trade secrets will help set your business up for future security. Collect patents and trademarks. This can also include interviewing important employees and gathering their own patents and trademarks to ensure that your business is covered from all angles.
As this can be a complicated process for businesses of larger stature, a business attorney can help your business collect and create an organizational structure to minimize risk and boost security in your business.
4. Solidify Agreements
There are a series of legal documents that a court will look for in order to determine whether your business took the proper measures to keep your information confidential. Some of the agreements that your business and its employees need to complete in the corporate formation process are:
5. Mark Documents That Contain Trade Secrets
When starting a business, there are many avenues that you need to cover. One way to keep your business’s secrets confidential is to mark them as “Confidential”. This makes is practically impossible for anyone to copy or steal without being accused. Your company stamp along with the words “Confidential” or “Contains Trade Secrets” is the easiest way to create a red flag to anyone in contact with these documents.
6. Create Policies Within Your Business To Educate Employees
In corporate formation for trade secret protection, it is important that your new protection policies trickle down to employees. Your employees are constantly interacting with these secrets, and if they are not informed of new policies, they can be in danger. By educating your employees on new policies your secrets will be safe, along with your staff.
7. Recognize Warning Signs
Many business owners are blind to warning signs that their trade secrets are in danger. Be sure that your legal team and HR team can recognize the warning signs. Some of the most common warning signs that the managing staff should be aware of are:
- Unhappy employees
- Employees that show interest in competitors
- Employees that work odd hours without notice
- Engagement with competitors or past employees
We hope that you consider these 7 tips to keep your business’s trade secrets secure. If you are struggling to manage any of these tasks on your own, a business lawyer can help you create safe and secure corporate formation and transaction plans to do so.