Businesses typically thrive on their competitive edge – especially when their products or services share similarities. When you develop specific information that sets your company above the rest, protecting it helps you remain relevant.
A detrimental effect could be associated with this financially valuable intellectual property (IP) escaping the confines of your company. However, you must understand what information you can qualify as a trade secret before you shelter it from the public.
Elements of a trade secret
According to federal law, your trade secrets may include:
Protecting your proprietary information is vital to the health and success of your organization. Intellectual property protection can help you support your rights should the theft of your trade secrets affect your business.
Stolen IP rights
Annually, businesses allocate billions of dollars toward the theft of trade secrets. However, problems typically relate to one of three scenarios:
- Employee misappropriation. Disagreements about the company’s direction may cause an employee to start a competing business. Likewise, a corporate rival might offer employees competitive compensation packages to gain insight into your key initiatives.
- Disclosure violation. Despite a non-disclosure agreement, sharing information with a third party can be detrimental to a company’s market share.
- Access breach. Computer hacking is one way competitors steal a company’s trade secrets. Information you make public could also be used against you to harm profits.
Legal disputes involving the most important details about your business aren’t likely to elicit national interest. However, it’s wise to protect your IP all the same.
It’s probably best to seek help drafting employee agreements to keep your trade secrets in-house. Should a problem arise, you’ll have signed documentation to support your claim.