Trade secrets can be vital to your company’s success, and you certainly do not want your competitors to learn about them. Taking the right steps to safeguard trade secrets can help you get legal recourse if an employee or another person tries to take unlawful advantage of this inside knowledge.
Georgia law defines a trade secret as information unavailable to the public, whose confidential nature makes it economically valuable and that the company actively keeps secret. Information that does not meet these standards may lack the legal protection of trade secrets.
What is a trade secret?
Just because your company considers some types of information confidential does not mean this information necessarily qualifies as a trade secret. Part of the information’s value must consist of its secret nature; having it become common knowledge or fall into the hands of a competitor would then decrease its value. Common types of trade secrets include client lists, product formulas, processes and algorithms.
Protecting your secrets from disclosure
One type of defense frequent in trade secret cases consists of claiming that the company did not do enough to protect the trade secret. For this reason, it is important to establish procedures to define and guard important secret information.
One way companies may ensure their employees understand expectations surrounding trade secrets is to draw up a written policy specifying which information constitutes trade secrets. The policy should clearly list this information and prohibit employees from disclosing it at any time without the employer’s consent. Requiring employees to sign nondisclosure agreements can also implement protection. Your attorney can assist you in developing specific policies that address your concerns effectively.
Further, trade secrets should only be available to employees who need to know them. Restricting access and implementing security features can demonstrate that the company acted to prevent the trade secrets from dissemination.
When misappropriation occurs
If someone does obtain and publish or use your trade secrets, you may need to go to court to prevent further harm. Georgia law concerning trade secrets is complex and may implicate a variety of additional legal areas including contract law and potentially even First Amendment rights.