It does not matter what type of business you own; it is crucial to stay on top of protecting your trade secrets and confidential information. They are often the key to your business’ success. There are many ways to accomplish this, and it should always be a top priority. Employers have a vast array of civil actions they can take when the trade secrets are misappropriated by employees or clients. To obtain relief from the act, employers need to be able to show they established trade secret protection by following specific guidelines and procedures.
Below are some tips for protecting your brand by safeguarding the most valuable resources and secrets:
1. Have Non-Disclosure Agreements Signed
The first and most crucial step to protecting your company’s trade secrets is to have all employees, and any parties involved sign non-disclosure agreements. Once signed, use Superior Notary Services to find someone to have the NDAs notarised as soon as possible. This ensures they can be legally enforced. Remember to include a clause in the agreement that states all confidential information needs to be returned in the event of resignation or termination of said employee. Other agreements employers may choose to have signed include non-solicitations and non-competition provisions. Each of these needs to clearly state what is deemed as “confidential information” so there are no misunderstandings on the part of the employee or client when accessing trade secrets or confidential information.
2. Written Policies Ensuring Employee Conduct is Governed
Business owners should have clear rules and policies outlined for employees to follow with how they should maintain confidential information. An example would be written instructions on how to copy or share sensitive information. All new employees should be given handbooks that clearly outline all confidentiality procedures. The policies should include restrictions on how employees in different departments share confidential information with each other.
3. Limit Trade Secret Access
Another tip for protecting a company’s secrets is to restrict access to the data by individual employees. These limitations may include reducing access to locations where hard copies of information are stored and tracking the access of individual employees who have access. All electronically-stored secret information should be protected with passwords and other security measures. Businesses should implement a variety of security monitoring options.
4. Limit Access by Outsiders
Strict monitoring measures should be taken when someone working outside of the company needs to gain access to information that is sensitive or confidential. Areas in the business that confidential house information should not be easily accessible. Depending on the data being stored, this limited access may include security measures such as camera footage, security guards, visitor badges with login and log-out codes, security cards and more.
5. Controls for Public Dissemination
Business owners may choose to take extra precautions and designate specific employees the ability to review and approve any dissemination of information to the public. This may include presentations, publications, website content, promotional materials and more to ensure no trade secrets or sensitive information is included or inadvertently being disclosed. The scope of information shared during meetings with potential clients or customers should always be carefully examined and evaluated by the employer beforehand. Further security measures may need to be considered, such as having non-disclosure agreements signed before any type of confidential information is shared. Business owners should implement and regularly monitor, audit and update their security measures to ensure compliance from all involved. Efforts taken to keep these procedures maintained may end up paying dividends in the event an employer needs to pursue former employees for the theft of trade secrets.