How Can I Protect My Business’s Trade Secrets?

All forms of intellectual property need to be carefully maintained and protected in order to keep their value, but none more so than a company’s trade secrets. In many cases, the loss of a trade secret can cost a business its competitive edge or even spell the end of the business altogether. If your operation depends on information that shouldn’t be shared, it’s worth taking some time to make sure you have the proper measures in place to keep it safe.

What Qualifies as a Trade Secret?

To start, not just any information can be classified as a trade secret. To qualify, your intellectual property must meet a few qualifications defined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A trade secret must:

  • Provide actual or potential future economic value;
  • Its value must be derived from its secrecy;
  • It must have value to your competitors or other third parties; and,
  • It must be subject to a reasonable level of effort to keep it a secret.

As such, the only information that could be considered a trade secret is that which is very valuable to your business and your competitors. The main requirement, however, is that its exclusivity is what creates that value. In other words, this information provides value to your company precisely because only your business has access to it.

Thus, you must be able to demonstrate that you have taken precautions to protect any trade secrets you might possess. Unfortunately, what is considered a “reasonable” level of effort to safeguard your secrets is not explicitly defined and is determined only on a case-by-case basis. 

Tips to Protect Your Trade Secrets

For that reason, it is a good idea to take what steps you can to ensure your information stays protected, enabling you to prove that you did keep your information safe should you ever be required to do so. Here are some things you can do:

  • Have physical security on your premises, such as video surveillance, employee ID badges, access logs, and after-hours monitoring.
  • Maintain cybersecurity on your network with up-to-date antivirus or malware software, multi-factor authentication, and well-maintained computer event logs.
  • Provide ongoing training to your employees about best practices for security and protecting trade secrets.

If you discover that your trade secrets have been compromised, whether by an employee or a competitor, Integrated General Counsel is here to help you navigate next steps. We are also available to help counsel you on the proactive measures you can take to keep your company’s secrets safe. Contact us today to learn more about all of the ways that we can help you.