Tips for protecting trade secrets

Glenn W. Peterson

A trade secret is only protected as long as it remains secret information. As soon as an unauthorized person become privy to the information, the protections are lost. This is why California business owners need to be vigilant about protecting their intellectual property. There are some solid tips that anyone can employ to keep their trade secret protections intact.

The Small Business Administration suggests that owners become familiar with the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and know what their rights and protections are. In addition, a trade secret should be in an encrypted file saved on a computer with limited access or protected in a locked safe if it is written down. The SBA also notes it is essential to identify trade secrets early and to educate staff or anyone who may have access to the information about the importance of maintaining its secrecy.

The Association of Corporate Counsel reminds that one of the most critical issues in any lawsuit involving trade secrets is the steps taken to keep it secret. Employees are often the weak link when it comes to maintaining secrecy. This is why it is essential to limit access to the secret so only essential personnel has access and to have all employees sign confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements. In addition, technology should be carefully monitored. Policies should be put into place for employees leaving the company that includes ensuring all electronic devices and storage devices were returned and that employees understand their legal requirements under any documents they signed regarding non-disclosure.