Are you protecting the value you’ve built in your business? Lately we’ve talked a lot about employee theft and embezzlement. But what about the value that you can’t put in the bank? Trade secrets are hard to place a value on, but can be a vital part of your competitiveness and profitability.
In the USA, companies lost nearly $300 billion to trade secret theft last year. Is your business at risk?
Trade Secret Laws
Your strategies, processes and unique ways of doing business do not have to be patented to qualify as a trade secret. Your “secret sauce” is protected under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), if you follow the following guidelines:
- It must not be “readily ascertainable” (meaning, its actually something unusual!)
- It must derive economic value from being secret (you must use it!)
- You must make reasonable efforts to protect the secret
Reasonable efforts to protect trade secrets does not mean that you keep it in a secret vault (like the recipe for Coke!), but it does mean that you are not publishing your trade secrets, that you make people sign non-disclosure agreements, and that you take reasonable care to limit knowledge of the secret to those people who need to know. If your secrets are stored electronically, they should have good encryption, strong passwords and/or traceable access. One key to this is that there can be NO exceptions.
Want some more? Kelly Warner Law put together a nice infographic about protecting trade secrets at your company. I think it’s worth a look — see below.
Dedicated to your (protected) profits,