With great concentration, dedication, sacrifice and investment, you have developed some key products that have made your business one that is known for innovation, anticipation and success. But it is not just you behind that success. A team of instrumental employees made similar sacrifices that led to securing important patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Along the way, though, a couple of those employees broke away to start their own company. You have concerns and some suspicions that one or both of them have walked away with certain company trade secrets. Your intellectual property may be under threat. Now, you must protect your company and, if this pair absconded with some of your secrets, you must head them off at the pass.
Alertness and non-disclosure agreements
In getting this far with your business, you did not expect this sudden and painful surprise that will harm your business. This is what you need to do in order to protect your company and minimize the threat of trade secret theft:
- Know what you can protect legally. Trade secrets are among the things that fit such criteria. A trade secret is a valuable asset that only a few people within your company know the details.
- Understand that you can protect critical company information by having non-disclosure agreements in place. Have all employees and contractors sign such agreements, which remain effective in protecting intellectual property.
- Immediately revoke computer access to terminated employees or those who resigned. Promptly escort them from the company’s premises and do not allow them to return.
- When you suspect suspicious activity, monitor those employees as well as their activities. Work with your IT security team as well as in-house counsel or a skilled intellectual property attorney.
Theft of company secrets is effectively an act of sabotage by an employee or former employee. The damage to your company can be permanent, leading your business to flounder in the market due to the actions of unscrupulous individuals. Prepare, anticipate and act.