Business owners may have many assets, including the building where the business operates, the money earned from the sale of their products or services and even the reputation they have in the community. It’s important for business owners to know that their trade secrets are also a significant asset and should be protected.
Trade secret overview
While there is no single definition of a trade secret, generally it is something that has commercial value or a competitive advantage in the marketplace, is not available to competitors and is information that the business owner takes reasonable steps to protect.
Some examples of a trade secret include businesses processes, proprietary programs, customer lists, strategic plans and marketing programs.
Protecting a trade secret
Usually, there are three methods of protecting a trade secret. These are physical security, digital security and confidentiality agreements, including non-compete and non-disclosure agreements.
Physical security includes limiting access to information by only select individuals and keeping the information in a physically secure environment. Digital security may include using firewalls, network security, controlling access to websites and using encrypted flash drives, for example.
In addition to using confidentiality agreements, business owners can train their employees about how to safeguard trade secrets. This can be part of the training requirements for new employees and for employees who are leaving the organization.
It’s important for business owners to protect their trade secrets. If a business owner would like additional information or needs assistance to enforce its trade secret rights, an experienced attorney can help.