Without trade secrets, your Michigan company may lose its edge in the marketplace. However, a necessary part of doing business involves sharing those secrets with key players in your company.
Here are some steps you can take to protect your company’s property, per the American Bar Association.
Make sure the trade secret is a secret
If you ever have to go to court to show that someone stole your trade secret, you will need to prove that you took steps to protect the secret, such as having all relevant parties sign nondisclosure agreements. Other agreements include noncompetes, nonsolicitation of customers and no-raids.
You should also have policies and procedures in place that address trade secrets so that employees cannot misunderstand their role in keeping the information private.
Appoint an information protection team
Consider creating a team to monitor access to trade secrets, implement policies and procedures and perform risk assessments to identify parties who may have an interest in your trade secrets. This team may also oversee physical and electronic restrictions and control disclosures.
Create a culture of confidentiality
Perform background checks on every potential employee, and during the hiring and onboarding process, explain the rules, the contracts and protections in place and the importance of these agreements. Employees should understand what consequences there are for stealing or sharing trade secrets. The company should have an ongoing campaign of education and awareness, as well.
Have a thorough off-boarding process
When employees leave the company, the exit interview should include a reminder of the contracts and legal obligations he or she has to protect the trade secrets. You should also have a process in place for checking the employee’s computer, wiping information from personal devices, disabling access to company email and cloud data, and ensuring the return of company technology.
This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended as legal advice.