There’s something that sets your product or invention apart. Maybe it’s a secret spice you add to your chili, or maybe it’s part of the algorithm or AI that your business uses. Sometimes your business relies on the privacy of your clients, so your client list can count as a trade secret. If these secrets were out in the open, it would spell trouble for your business. That’s why it’s important to learn how to protect those trade secrets, with the help of your IP law representation. Here are a few steps to protecting those trade secrets:
Know What Counts As a Trade Secret
Some trade secrets are obvious: the secret family recipe, for instance. Anything that sets your business apart from the rest might be kept secret so that your competition can’t get ahead of your business. But there are some things that might seem to fall into a gray area. For instance: when does your client list count as a trade secret? If your clients are a trade secret, does that mean your social media contacts are also a trade secret.
The USPTO defines a trade secret as:
- information that has either actual or potential independent economic value by virtue of not being generally known;
- value to others who cannot legitimately obtain the information; and
- subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.
If you’re not certain if something counts as a trade secret, talk to your IP law expert to form a plan. Once you know what needs to be protected, consider where those trade secrets might be vulnerable so you can determine how best to protect them.
Have a Policy For Trade Secrets When It Comes To Employees
It’s easy to keep a trade secret as a sole proprietor. The matter becomes more complicated when you hire others to help with your business. But employees are often necessary to run a business, so it’s good to have a policy involved. You may be able to limit the information given to new hires. If your employees need to know the trade secret as part of their job, you might implement NDAs for employees as well as business partners. This prevents them from sharing that information without legal repercussions, even if it’s necessary to know it.
Protect Your Trade Secrets Digitally
The internet opens up a whole host of new opportunities for your business…as well as new vulnerabilities for your trade secrets. While you might be able to protect your trade secrets physically, it’s also important to protect those trade secrets digitally. Limit digital access only to those who have signed NDAs and monitor each employee, business partner, or third party who has viewed your trade secret recently. This will help to protect those trade secrets fully, not just in face-to-face interactions.
Feeling daunted by the process of protecting your trade secrets? Don’t be! Garcia Zamor has over two decades experience helping our clients protect their intellectual property. We can even get started with an intellectual property audit to see whether your IP — including trade secrets — is being fully protected. Contact us today to learn more or get started..