A trade secret is something that gives your business a competitive advantage over other businesses in the same industry. It includes unpatented inventions and products, nonpublic documents, such as blueprints or test data, and other sources of unique information that other companies don't have. When facing business litigation, it is important to protect your trade secrets to keep your competitive edge. How can you ensure your trade secrets will remain unknown to the public and the competition?
There Are 4 Main Ways to Protect Your Trade Secrets
1. Identify the Trade Secrets
In order to protect your business's trade secrets, the first step is to know exactly what they are. There are several factors that can help you identify the trade secrets of your company. Trade secrets are unique to your company and are not known by anyone else. Furthermore, they are valuable to your business, and give you a competitive advantage over other similar businesses. Information that is publicly known, or products that are used by other businesses, do not count as trade secrets.
2. Inform Your Employees & Have a Protection Plan
Having a Trade Secret Protection Policy has many advantages. It lets your employees know how to identify your company's trade secrets, as well as what steps to take to protect them. Furthermore, it lays out ground rules for managers to follow when disclosing trade secrets to outsiders. It also provides evidence that your business is committed to protecting your trade secrets, which is helpful in litigation.
It is important to restrict the knowledge of your trade secrets to as few people as possible. The more who know about a particular trade secret, the more likely it is that someone outside your company will hear about it. You should only disclose your business's trade secrets to those who need to know, and you should monitor your employees' compliance with your Trade Secret Protection Policy.
3. Keep Your Trade Secrets Organized and Secure
Having files and folders laying around the office with sensitive information is not only disorganized, but it also puts your trade secrets at risk. You need to know where you trade secrets are at all times, and have quick access to them. That way, whether you are in an emergency or you need the files for litigation, you don't have to search for them around your office.
As a rule, you should keep all your company's sensitive information, including trade secrets, clearly marked with a notice or legend. Each file should contain the name of the trade secret owner, and a warning to unauthorized personnel that the document is confidential. Furthermore, it is a good idea to store your company's most important trade secrets in a separate location, preferably in a locked depository. All who review or take the files must sign a log sheet or show the right credentials to access the documents. You should also have your computer files password protected and secure.
4. Protect Your Trade Secrets from Outside Access
Some trade secrets can be easily visible to those walking through your building, such as a unique type of machine you use to manufacture a piece of equipment. You should restrict public access to your building by using a receptionist or a guard, and you should have all visitors sign in. Furthermore, all visitors must be required to wear a badge and be escorted by a company representative when touring sensitive areas. While this may seem extreme, it is essential to protect your business's valuable information from prying eyes.
When disclosing a trade secret to another organization or third party, you should exercise extreme caution. You should know exactly who will be receiving the sensitive information, and have all parties sign a strict and clear confidentiality agreement. This can help protect your trade secrets from being exploited by competitors.
Call Our Dallas Trade Secret Litigation Attorney Today at (214) 361-6740
At The Hunnicutt Law Firm, we provide aggressive representation on behalf of our clients. If you are facing commercial litigation, or you want to protect your trade secrets, we can help. Our Dallas trade secret litigation lawyer will walk you through the process.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.