Business litigation has been making the news recently. A central focus in many of these cases has been an alleged thefts of trade secrets. One particular dispute involved ride-sharing mogul, Uber, and Waymo, the self-driving car designer. Such high-stakes incidents are believed to cause an annual $300 billion or more in collective economic losses in Kansas and Missouri companies as well as others throughout the nation.
Concerned business owners no doubt wonder if there’s anything they can do to protect their trade secrets. One step in the right direction is to first seek a clearer understanding of what trade secrets are. Many people confuse trade secrets with patents. With patents, there is a particular registration process for protection. There’s no registration process for trade secrets, though they are still protected by law.
Trade secrets can generally be defined as formulas, designs, methods, devices, processes or methods that give a particular business an advantage over its competitors. Such might include client lists and information, digital property, marketing methods or other data that is not generally known to the public and therefore creates potential economic benefit because of its secrecy. To protect trade secrets, a business owner will first want to clearly identify them, perhaps by creating a hard copy or digital itemization and keeping it under lock and key.
Develop and implement a specific company policy to protect trade secrets and have all new and existing employees sign confidentiality agreements. Most trade secret thefts involve former employees. If employees with access to trade secrets announce their intent to sever their employments, savvy Kansas and Missouri business owners will take immediate steps to protect any and all pertinent information from theft. An experienced intellectual property law attorney can help overcome any legal problems that arise concerning such matters.
Source: lexology.com, “5 steps to keeping your trade secrets secret“, Feb. 8, 2018