Protecting Trade Secrets and Confidential Information in the Workplace
As a business owner, you likely have information that you would like to keep secret from your competitors. This type of information is known as a “trade secret,” and it is important to take steps to protect it.
Similarly, you may also have information that is not necessarily a secret but is still confidential. This could include employee records, customer lists, or supplier contracts. While this information may not give your competitors an advantage, it could still be damaging if it fell into the wrong hands. As such, it is important to consult a business attorney to take the necessary steps to protect both your trade secrets and confidential information.
What Is a Trade Secret?
A trade secret is any type of information that would give your business an advantage over its competitors if it were made public. This could be a new product you are developing, information about your sales or marketing strategy, or even just your company’s financials. Trade secrets can be either physical (like a formula) or non-physical (like customer data). As long as the information is not generally known and you have taken steps to keep it secret, it can qualify as a trade secret.
The most famous example of a trade secret is the Coca-Cola recipe. While the recipe for Coca-Cola includes just seven ingredients, the specific proportions of those ingredients are unknown outside of the company. Coca-Cola has gone to great lengths to keep the recipe secret, including building a vault to store it in and only allowing two employees to know the full recipe at any given time.
What Is Confidential Information?
Confidential information is any type of non-public information that could be damaging if it fell into the wrong hands. This could include employee records, customer lists, or supplier contracts. While this information may not give your competitors an advantage if it were made public, it could still be damaging if it fell into the wrong hands. For example, if an employee list was leaked online, your employees could become targets for identity theft or fraud. Similarly, if customer data was leaked, your customers could lose trust in your company and take their business elsewhere.
Tips to Keep Information Secure
- Limit access to trade secrets and confidential information to only those employees who need to know.
- Require employees to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) before they are given access to trade secrets or confidential information.
- Store trade secrets and confidential information in a secure location, such as a locked filing cabinet or password-protected computer file.
- Make sure all physical copies of trade secrets and confidential information are shredded or destroyed when they are no longer needed.
- Do not discuss trade secrets or confidential information in public places or on unsecured communication channels (such as email or social media).
- Have a plan in place for what to do if trade secrets or confidential information are leaked. This might include contacting the police or hiring a lawyer.
- Educate employees on the importance of keeping trade secrets and confidential information safe. This can be done through regular training sessions or by including this topic in the employee handbook.
- Consider insurance policies that will cover the cost of damages if trade secrets or confidential information are leaked.
- Review your security measures regularly and update them as needed to ensure that they are adequate for protecting your company’s most important assets – its people, its products, and its reputation.
- Seek legal advice if you have questions about how to protect your company’s trade secrets or confidential information.
The Philadelphia Business Attorneys at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Protect Your Business Assets
Protecting your business assets is vital to your future growth and success. Part of that includes protecting your trade secrets and confidential information. Speak with our knowledgeable Philadelphia business attorneys at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. to discuss your options to keep your assets safe. Contact us at 215-574-0600 or inquire online. With offices in Philadelphia, we proudly serve our neighbors in South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.