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3 actions for protecting trade secrets

You put a lot of work into your brand, probably over a long period of time, but all it takes is one leak in your company to diminish brand value by spilling trade secrets across the market. By taking a proactive approach, you can help prevent trade secrets from being revealed. Here's a look at three ways you can protect your trade secrets.

First, it's essential to make sure your business procedures support any nondisclosure agreements you have. While it's a good idea to get agreements from employees that they won't disclose information to third parties, especially after they leave the company, your daily processes have to back that up. That means keeping information to need-to-know basis, creating strong security protocols for data and having a plan in place to ensure that employees who leave the company don't leave with digital or hard copy data in any format.

You can support your business processes by training staff. You can't always rely on common sense leading staff in the right direction; sometimes, what you see as obvious sensitive information is something that staff members might not realize shouldn't be shared with family members or friends in light conversation. Create training materials that not only tell your staff how to best safeguard information, but also teach them how to correctly identify information that should be safeguarded. Remember to include business partners and vendors in this type of training when appropriate.

Finally, good training and strong processes can't guarantee your trade secrets remain safe. That means that you need a plan in place should a breach occur. Working with an intellectual property law attorney might be part of that plan, as he or she can help you protect your trade secrets or seek legal remedies in the case of a leak.

Source: World Intellectual Property Organization, "Eight steps to secure trade secrets," Pamela Passman, accessed March 24, 2017

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