Tips for identifying and protecting trade secrets

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2023 | Trade Secrets |

The Uniform Trade Secrets Act defines trade secrets as information — such as a formula, process, method, or technique — that derives independent value from not being generally known to others in the trade and that is the subject of efforts to maintain its secrecy. Maintaining secrecy is easier said than done, but there are some logical steps to take.

  1. Identify your trade secrets: Look at how your business operates and determine the most important and unique parts that need to remain secret. It could be the recipe for baking sourdough bread or the identities, requirements, and purchasing histories of customers at a tech company. Focus on specific crucial details rather than imposing sweeping protections – overly broad parameters are harder to enforce.
  2. Revamp vendor contracts: Hold them accountable by drafting and using strict and well-provisioned agreements. Dividing work among different vendors is also a wise safeguard because it better ensures that none of the vendors have all the information.
  3. Properly store information: Ensure that this information is on a need-to-know basis, password protect that information online or lock it up, and look for weak spots in the security. Make sure to wipe computers before they are resold, repurposed or tossed out.
  4. Use password security: Employees may complain, but they should use strong passwords and then routinely update them. This adds a layer of protection if computers are lost or stolen.
  5. Inform your employees about expectations: Educate employees about the safe use and ongoing protection of information, and hold them accountable when they do not follow protocols. Conduct exit interviews to remind them of their legal obligations, recover equipment with sensitive information, and ensure that their passwords no longer work.

IP attorneys can review and strengthen protections

Law firms that handle intellectual property matters understand how to protect trade secrets and sensitive information. Working with them before a breach or dispute can minimize problems and provide a practical course of action when information falls into the wrong hands.