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5 steps you can take to help protect your trade secrets

Trade secrets are a key component of your company’s success. However, trade secrets are also vulnerable to theft. Your secrets are of little value once they fall into the hands of your competitors.

While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the threat of theft, there are some steps you can take to help protect your trade secrets.

 

1. Determine what requires protection

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to know what type of information should be protected. You don’t want to protect too little, because that will leave your company vulnerable. Conversely, you don’t want to protect every single thing as doing so can dilute the power of having trade secrets.

2. Label documents

A trade secret doesn’t mean much if your employees are unaware that a document is protected. Label documents as “confidential” or “for internal use only.”

3. Use secure storage

Keep hard copies under lock and key. Ensure all computers are secure and password protected. Have your IT department or an outside company perform a security check. Address and shore up any weak spots that they happen to identify.

4. Be careful around outside parties

When working with outside entities, determine what they need to know. Only provide them with as much information as they need to perform their service. If revealing a part of your trade secret is inevitable, have the outside party sign a confidentiality agreement.

5. Don’t overlook the rest of the world

Trade secret theft is not merely a domestic problem. If you conduct business internationally, be careful what you reveal and to whom.

If, despite your best efforts, you still find yourself the victim of trade secret theft, you should explore your legal options. It might be possible to limit the damage and to recover financial losses.

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