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How can you protect your trade secrets?

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2024 | Trade Secrets

When you know how to do something better than anybody else, you want to make sure that you keep your edge over the competition – and your trade secrets can become some of the most valuable intellectual property you own.

So, how can you protect what you have?

Coca-Cola, famously, keeps its original recipe on a piece of paper in a vault and only permits a small number of people to know the formula at any given point – and Thomas’ English Muffins actually sued to keep one of the seven people who know the secret to the snack’s “nooks and crannies” from starting a job with a competitor. The following are some of the lessons companies have learned from the past that your company may benefit from considering too.

Identify what you need to protect

The first step in protecting your trade secrets is to clearly identify and classify them. Conduct a thorough assessment of your company’s confidential information, from proprietary processes and specifically designed software to formulas for products. Categorize what you have based on its level of importance and sensitivity. This classification will guide your efforts in implementing appropriate security measures.

Limit access

The fewer people who have access to your trade secrets, the better. Take a “need-to-know” approach, so that your company’s secrets are only revealed to people who actually need the information. Cultivating a culture of secrecy around the information helps emphasize the restricted nature of that data to your staff. Use strong physical security measures, such as restricted access to offices, filing cabinets and laboratories where trade secrets may be stored. Use encryption, secure networks and extra authentication steps to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information that’s stored digitally.

Train your employees

Employees are often the first line of defense when it comes to protecting trade secrets. Providing comprehensive training on the importance of confidentiality, the potential consequences of unauthorized disclosure and best practices for safeguarding information is essential. Regularly reinforce these principles to instill awareness and responsibility within your organization.

Use confidentiality agreements

Finally, make sure that you make use of ironclad confidentiality agreements with anybody who does have access to your trade secrets. An effective agreement can help keep your secrets from being sold or misused by a disgruntled employee or contractor.

In addition to considering these tips, seeking legal guidance can help you take an even more effective approach in safeguarding the sources of your success.