Company trade secrets are the lifeblood of many businesses. They can include anything from the formula for a popular product to the customer list of a top client. To protect these secrets, business owners take steps to safeguard them and prevent them from being stolen. Our Seattle trade secret law attorneys outline the steps business owners take to do so and what to do if they are stolen.
What Are Trade Secrets?
The first step in protecting your company's trade secrets is understanding what they are. Trade secrets can include anything from the formula for a popular product to the customer list of a top client. They can be technical information, like how a new software program works or the recipe for a secret sauce. Or, they can be non-technical information, like a list of potential new clients or the names of key suppliers.
Here are some examples of trade secrets:
- Formulas: A secret formula for a new food product (like Coca-Cola's famous secret formula)
- Patterns: A special running shoe pattern
- Programs and apps: An app to determine the market value of your products
- Devices: A camera that captures images in a new way
- Methods: How the New York Times Book Review determines its best-seller list
- Processes: A new process of making ice cream that gives it a different consistency from other ice creams
How to Protect Trade Secrets
There are a number of steps you can take to protect your company's trade secrets. Here are some of the most important:
Keep them secret
The first and most obvious step is to keep your trade secrets secret. That means limiting access to only those employees who need to know and keeping them under lock and key.
Train your employees
Educate your employees on the importance of trade secrets and how to protect them. Make sure they understand the consequences of disclosing or stealing trade secrets.
Have a confidentiality agreement
Have all employees, contractors, and suppliers sign a confidentiality agreement that prohibits them from disclosing your trade secrets.
Use physical and electronic security measures to monitor and control access to your trade secrets.
What to Do If Your Trade Secrets Are Stolen
Despite taking all of the above precautions, there is always the possibility that your trade secrets could be stolen. If that happens, it's crucial to take action quickly. Here are some steps you should take:
- Notify the police: Immediately notify the police if you suspect that your trade secrets have been stolen. They will launch an investigation and try to track down the culprits.
- Take legal action: If you can identify who stole your trade secrets, you may want to take legal action against them. This can be a complex process, but it may be the only way to get justice.
- Change your security: Take a close look at your security measures and make any necessary changes to prevent future theft.
Safeguarding your company's trade secrets is essential to its success. Taking the steps outlined above can help protect your secrets and keep your business one step ahead of the competition.
Have Your Trade Secrets Been Stolen? Northwest Business Law LLC Can Help!
These days, it's imperative to keep your trade secrets a secret. But if they are stolen, you need to take action quickly. At Northwest Business Law LLC, our Seattle trade secret law attorneys can help. We have experience handling these complex cases and will fight to protect your interests.