You've spent decades building a successful business. During this process, you've acquired numerous tricks of the trade, amassed extensive client and customer contact lists, invented new ways of doing things more efficiently and developed proprietary technologies that help you keep your customers happy. These are your "trade secrets," and you need to protect them if you want to stay competitive in your industry.
Following are some strategies to keep your trade secrets from getting out and prevent someone from stealing them, profiting from them or harming your business with them:
-- Identify the trade secrets, information and other things you need to protect.
-- Label all files and documents that have protected information in them "confidential."
-- Perform an audit to identify where your protected information is and who can access it. Look for any "weak links" where the information could leak into unsecured or too many hands.
-- Make sure you have a good security system to keep hackers out of your computer databases.
-- Use confidentiality provisions in your contracts with vendors.
-- Don't let the public into your building without a security check.
-- Train your employees to use the security protocol and perform regular audits and checks to ensure that all employees are following the protocol.
Finally, you might want to discuss the security of your trade secrets with a California intellectual property attorney. Your attorney will be able to provide even more information about keeping your trade secrets safe against the threat of exploitation from your employees, competitors and others who might wish to cause harm to your business.