5 Steps to Secure Your Business Trade Secrets - Hackstaff, Snow, Atkinson & Griess, LLC

5 Steps to Secure Your Business Trade Secrets

Secure Your Business Trade Secrets Your Colorado business may not be on par with Coca-Cola, Krispy Kreme, or the New York Time’s Best Seller List, but that does not mean you do not have valuable business information to protect. Today, most businesses have the information they need to keep under wraps from client lists and overhead to proprietary software or recipes. Suppose a business owner does not take reasonable measures to protect the confidentiality of specific information. In that case, they will not have any protection under federal or Colorado trade secret laws.  

Although international cyberattacks that rob companies of valuable intellectual property (IP) are on the rise, threats against many businesses come from within. In fact, studies have shown that confidentiality agreements with employees and business partners were critical deciding factors when federal courts decided companies had taken reasonable measures to protect trade secrets. The courts’ decisions show that businesses can and should use several measures to build a valid legal claim if their IP is compromised. 

Five Steps to Securing Your Business’ Trade Secrets 

Create Physical and Electronic Security Measures 

Now more than ever, courts need to see that companies are initiating and maintaining security measures to protect both their physical and electronic trade secret property. Anything tangible should be stored in locked and secured areas, far away from any public access. Locking filing cabinets are helpful, but you likely also need to add other security layers such as security cameras or security guards.  

IP stored electronically should have the protection of secure networks, password protection, and frequently upgraded systems. Access to confidential electronic information should be limited to only those parties who need it for their job. Limiting this access can go a long way in decreasing the risk of a breach and determining who might have leaked any information. 

Identify and Prioritize Trade Secret Vulnerabilities 

Business owners should take the time to identify their trade secrets as well as what vulnerabilities they face. Once these things are identified, the company can prioritize the essential information that needs protection and the most significant risks. Prioritizing these things will bring the greatest and most critical protection first. Do not wait to assess the risks to identify and prioritize trade secret vulnerabilities within your systems. Trade secret protection should be embedded into all operations and processes in one way or another.  

Establish Due Diligence and Ongoing Third-Party Management Procedures 

Third parties are essential to many business endeavors. Whether they are suppliers, distributors, partners, or even clients, do not overlook the fact that they may have access to your trade secrets for collaborations, product development, and manufacturing. Since your IP can be compromised in these situations, you need to have procedures in place to protect your trade secrets.  

Although non-disclosure agreements for third parties are a good start, they are not the end-all. Companies also need to incorporate trade secret protection in their due diligence criteria by: 

  • Performing ongoing audits of processes used to keep information confidential 
  • Routinely address expectations for trade secret protection with third parties 

Develop Training Procedures 

Just as third parties need to know your expectations surrounding trade secret protection, so do your employees. Your employees need to have a basic understanding of what your company identifies as IP and how they should handle it. If employees are not trained in this manner, courts might not extend trade secret protection to their company. Employees must know what information their employer considers to be confidential. You need to develop training procedures for all staff members that outline the threats and explain the necessary steps required to protect your company’s data. 

Monitor Efforts to Safeguard Your Trade Secrets 

Safeguarding your IP is not simply something that you check off your to-do list when it is finished. It will always need your attention. Technology is ever-changing, as are the ways crafty thieves can access trade secrets. Companies need to continually monitor and measure corporate efforts to safeguard their trade secrets. For various reasons, their security measures and tools may change. They should never consider their security measures as something that does not need further attention. Even if things are not constantly evolving, monitoring the efficacy of the protection plan and making any necessary changes will only stand to improve it. 

How a Business Attorney from Hackstaff, Snow, Atkinson & Griess, LLC Can Help 

An experienced business attorney can play a vital role in helping your business develop, maintain, and update policies for data protection. You will find that attorney at Hackstaff, Snow, Atkinson & Griess, LLC. Our lawyers are well-versed in the many areas of trade secret protection. We know the risks you face and how your company could suffer if it succumbs to those risks. We strive to keep up with the new trends, technologies, and services available for data protection so we can use them to protect your business further. Give us a call today to find out how we can partner with you to protect your IP.