There is an obvious point attached to trade secrets in the commercial world.
And that is this: They're supposed to be, well, confidential.
That's the reason you take mighty strides to spotlight your critically important intellectual property and safeguard it against unlawful misappropriation, right? You know that your entrepreneurial instincts as a business professional in the Bay Area demand that you do so.
Why is trade secret protection such a big deal?
The reasons why are many. The benefits from years of toil and brainstorming can be wiped out in an instant when a former employee hands over your confidential business plans to a competitor. Rivals can intrude on your market share following the unlawful disclosure of a customer list. Devastating consequences can flow from the sharing of technical processes and know-how with upstart commercial challengers.
That is why sharp and focused business principals routinely make strong efforts to ensure that their most precious internal information and data are identified and legally protected to the maximum extent possible.
Can you really do much to safeguard your trade secrets?
Stories abound that highlight the pilfering of key information. Those are sobering, but should never be construed as suggesting that a careful business owner can't protect a company's most vital know-how.
In fact, there is a lot that can be done to guard against downsides. Employers can implement the following measures and other strategies recommended by an attorney who routinely works with diverse clientele on intellectual property-related matters:
- Execute strong employee contracts addressing confidential information, and keep them timely updated
- Implement protective electronic measures to safeguard proprietary intellectual property (e.g, firewalls, limited-access protocols and search-tracking tools)
- Consistently interact with employees to spotlight concerns and underscore their duties regarding secrecy (including at hiring and exit interviews)
- Maintain a high degree of legal readiness to respond to concerns and outright company emergencies
That latter point merits these few additional words. The due care employed by an employer rightly seeking to protect trade secrets and other confidential data can be rendered quickly pointless without a truly comprehensive plan to respond to unlawful misappropriation.
The prescription for a higher probability of success dealing with trade secret violations at every stage is proactivity.
Has your business fully considered that?