As a business owner or executive, you must constantly think of innovative ways to keep existing customers happy and attract new ones. Whether you have an in-demand product, a tasty recipe, a unique way of doing business or another trade secret, you have an interest in maintaining exclusive ownership and usage of it.
Unfortunately, unscrupulous employees or contractors may try to steal your company’s trade secrets for their own gain. Naturally, you have the option of asking a court to intervene. Litigation can be both expensive and time-consuming, though, so you probably want to avoid the courtroom altogether. Here are three tips for preventing trade secret disputes.
1. Keep good records
You do not want your organization to be in the unenviable position of having to prove that it owns company information. Keeping comprehensive records during the development and maintenance of intellectual property is a good way to show ownership of trade secrets.
2. Require a nondisclosure agreement
Nondisclosure agreements prohibit individuals from releasing information about your organization to others. If you worry about a former employee, contractor or another person using your organization’s trade secrets to compete against you, you may also want to draft a non-compete agreement. You must be careful with the wording in these agreements, though. For nondisclosure and non-compete agreements to be enforceable, they typically must be specific and not overly broad.
3. Monitor exiting employees
Finally, you do not want workers to carry trade secrets with them when they end their employment. Monitoring exiting workers to ensure they leave your company’s intellectual property behind is essential. If you have sensitive trade secrets, you may also choose to adopt policies that prevent even existing employees from taking valuable information offsite.
Protecting your company’s trade secrets is essential for the overall health and viability of the business. While suing someone who steals proprietary information is usually possible, you can likely prevent the dispute from arising in the first place.