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November 30, 2014 | business

Protecting Your Business' Trade Secrets

by Kathy Tremmel, Business Attorney

A Trade Secret is confidential information that is unique and valuable to your business. Here are some basic steps you must take to protect your company’s trade secrets.

1. Trade Secrets Must Really Be Secrets

A trade secret must be information used in your business that's not generally known to the public and would not be ordinarily available to your competitors except by the use of improper or illegal means.

What this means to your business: Monitor the type of information your business voluntarily provides to any outsider or third party. Information you voluntarily provide to people outside your company cannot be protected as a trade secret unless the recipient signs an appropriate confidentiality agreement.

2. Use a Warning Label

Generally, you must use a written label or sticker to classify and protect your designated trade secrets.

What this means to your business: Place a "Confidential" rubber stamp on each page of any trade secret information or put the word "Confidential" in the header or footer of each page of any documents you consider to be trade secrets.

3. Restrict Access to Your Trade Secret Information

You must limit access to trade secret materials on a need-to-know basis.

What this means to your business:

  • Place hard copies in a locked filing cabinet with limited key access.
  • Create secure passwords for computer-stored trade secret information.
  • Shred any documents containing trade secret materials.
  • Wipe any trade secret information contained on a computer hard drive or other electronic storage medium.

4. Require Everyone to Sign Confidentiality Agreements

What this means to your business: Require all employees, consultants, independent contractors and potential business partners to routinely sign confidentially agreements if they may receive or have access to any of your company's trade secrets.

5. Adopt and Implement These Policies

What this means to your business: Establish and enforce your company’s trade secret policies on a daily basis.

Article and information is courtesy of Kathy Tremmel, Business Attorney at Tremmel Law, PLLC. Amplify Credit Union does not endorse or guarantee the perspectives, the advice, the users, the businesses, or the products or services sold by any users or businesses that appear in this article.