You as a business owner may have important information that you do not want your competitors to learn. You might have a special formula to create your products, or a client list or sales data. This information helps keep your business healthy and profitable. To prevent your trade secrets from becoming public knowledge, you should consider how you can protect them.
Unlike copyrights or trademarks, you cannot register your trade secrets with the federal government for protection. As Forbes points out, you may need to take certain actions to guard your trade secrets from public disclosure.
Non-disclosure agreements and policies
You could follow the lead of many companies and require your employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This document binds your workers from revealing your trade secrets to the public. It also gives you legal recourse to sue your workers if they should break the agreement and disclose your secrets.
You may also institute procedures to reinforce the confidentiality of your trade secrets. To help ensure your workers know these procedures, consider describing them in employee handbooks. Even if not all of your workers need to know this information, you should at least inform your workers who have access to your trade secrets.
Handling procedures for sensitive information
Some companies run into problems in litigation involving their trade secrets. If a company did not take proactive steps to keep their trade secrets confidential, a judge might rule that their trade secrets do not merit protection. To try to avoid this problem, you should not only describe your procedures for handling trade secrets, but your company should practice them as well.
For example, you may choose to keep your secrets inside a special room or a vault. Only specific employees may go into the storage area, and they may not carry phones or other recording equipment. The employees also have to sign in and they cannot bring sensitive material out of the viewing area back to a workstation. Practicing procedures like these may minimize the chance your secrets will leak and could also reinforce your commitment to protecting your important property in the eyes of a court.