Do you or your company have trade secrets? You may be surprised to find that the answer is 'yes'.
Trade secrets can be anything from recipes and formulas to methods of operation, client list and other tools necessary to run your business. It can be vital to your business or entrepreneurship to identify these valuable assets and take the proper steps to protect them.
You don't have to be a large corporation to guard your trade secrets. Below are five steps to protecting your trade secrets from the Small Business Association:
- Identify your trade secrets - The key to achieving this is to pinpoint what information would compromise your business if it got into the hands of your competitor. Make a list of these assets and determine what is the most valuable.
- Keep trade secrets confidential - Label trade secrets as "confidential" and keep them in a safe place. Hard copy information should be placed in a secure or locked location. Electronic files should be password-protected and access should be limited.
- Educate staff about the need for protection - Employees should sign a nondisclosure agreement and understand company policy regarding proper handling of protected information. Plan regular training and refresher courses on trade secret confidentiality.
- Understand the law - Currently, trade secrets do not require national or international registration. Historically, they have been governed by state laws and the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Beginning in 2017, additional protection will be offered on a national level through the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.
- Take civil action against violations - If you discover a competitor is unlawfully using your trade secrets, act quickly to stop it. You may be able to file a civil lawsuit for injunctive relief (a cease and desist) and monetary damages.
An experienced intellectual property attorney can guide you in maximizing the protection of your trade secrets and represent your best interests during legal actions. Contact a reputable lawyer to discuss your needs and options.