Protecting intellectual property

Glenn W. Peterson

Any type of business in California can have what constitutes trade secrets that they need and want to protect. As explained by the United States Small Business Administration, a good way for a company to identify its trade secrets is to consider what its competition would most want to know and what may actually aid the competition should they know it. For the local cupcake shop, this might be the recipe for a special frosting or batter. For a computer software company, it might be the code used to develop a product.

Regardless of the nature or size of a business, protecting these trade secrets is and should be a priority. In fact, courts do put some of the onus for this on companies. The World Intellectual Property Organization indicates that defending a patent or a trademark, for example, is the responsibility of the entity that holds that patent or trademark.

Companies should develop processes and policies specifically for the protection of their trade secrets. This spans many things including strong electronic security measures from external firewalls to individual employee access methods. The consistent and appropriate use of confidentiality agreements with employees, vendors and other third parties may also be a good way of protecting sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands.

Training is another component to protecting essential business knowledge or data. This training may be extended beyond direct employees and also include vendors, contractors or others who regularly work with a business. When necessary, taking legal action is another means to protecting intellectual property.