If your business profits from the use of trade secrets, it is in your interest to keep those secrets from becoming known to the public. Once other parties possess your sensitive business information, you may lose your edge over your competitors. Since trade secrets do not enjoy the protection of intellectual property like copyrighted material, you must be proactive in order to guard your information.
The best way to head off unauthorized distribution of your trade secrets is to take as many preventative measures as necessary. Some of these measures may help you in the event you sue and employee for exposing your confidential information.
Identify trade secrets
According to Entrepenuer.com, you must first single out the information you want to protect from public disclosure. Such information may include the following:
- Sales forecasts
- Client or customer lists
- Food and drink recipes
- Product designs
After identifying your trade secrets, you must make sure that anyone who has access to them knows of their confidentiality. Consider having your employees sign a nondisclosure agreement. An NDA can not only protect your secrets, but it can make a difference if you want to sue an employee for disclosing a trade secret later on.
Isolate sensitive information
Keep in mind that an employee might still leak one of your trade secrets by accident. You may lessen the chances of this happening by isolating sensitive information in a location where only authorized personnel may enter. Some companies fence off their trade secrets and hire guards to protect the location.
Similarly, consider how to protect your trade secrets if you keep them stored on a computer. You might isolate the computer in a single room and keep it off your company’s computer network. Putting passwords in place can also prevent unauthorized access. Keep track of users by having a sign in sheet. Also, have rules dictating that staff cannot take information off the computer on a flash drive.
Preventive steps are crucial
Even if your measures to protect your trade secrets do not ultimately succeed, they can still help you in court. A judge might not sanction someone for leaking your information if you took no steps to guard its confidentiality. If you show you were serious in protecting your information, you may bolster the credibility of your case.