Most business owners worry about their sensitive proprietary information walking out the door when key employees who leave for a new position or to open their own business. If it has been a while since you have updated your company policies and forms, you might consider whether it is time for an audit of your trade secret protection program. Not taking action is a ticking time-bomb. The protection that a court will afford you is 100% dependent upon what you do every day to protect your sensitive information. The court helps those who help themselves; the more steps you take the more protection a court will enforce. Take this five question test to see if it is time for an update.
- Before having access to sensitive proprietary information, do all employees, vendors, consultants and others sign confidentiality agreements? Are they maintained in an organized system for future reference?
- Have all key employees and co-owners with access to critical operations information signed non-compete agreements?
- Are your critical and sensitive documents all marked “Confidential”?
- Do you have adequate security and restricted access to your sensitive information (locks on rooms and file cabinets with physical records and passwords/encryption on electronic records)?
- Do you examine hard drives and e-mail of departing employees to detect documents being sent to personal accounts or communications with competitors?
If you answered no to any of these questions, add an update of your policies and agreements to your to-do list.