As a small business owner, you likely have closely guarded information about your company and its operations that you do not want your competitors or others accessing. Know as your business’s “trade secrets,” this information can take on many forms.
For example, if you operate a restaurant, your one-of-a-kind recipes likely count among your trade secrets, whereas, if you run, say, an email list brokerage service, your lists of contacts might constitute your trade secrets. Regardless of what type of trade secrets you are looking to keep, there are certain measures you can take to protect them and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.
Steps you can take to protect your trade secrets include the following:
Storing them properly
It may sound obvious that storing your trade secrets carefully, whether tangible or electronic, is essential when it comes to protecting them, but some business owners make the mistake of placing too much trust in their workers. Doing so can come back to bite you, so make sure you store any trade secrets you have on paper in a locked, hard-to-access file cabinet. Similarly, protect electronic trade secrets you might have by keeping them password-protected. Limit electronic access to yourself and perhaps a few trusted colleagues.
Having your workers sign nondisclosure agreements
As a small business owner, it is important to keep in mind that, unless you directly address the critical nature of protecting your business’s trade secrets with your workers, they may not understand what you expect of them or how much is at stake. As a protective measure, you may want to have your workers sign nondisclosure agreements. These agreements would apply not only during their tenure with you, but afterward, too.
Enforcing trade secret protections
If someone gains unauthorized access to your company’s trade secrets and discloses them (or uses them to compete with you), it’s important to take swift legal action to protect your business. A knowledgeable business law attorney can help you enforce your rights.