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Tips on protecting trade secrets

Trade secrets are often essential for the success of your business, which is why so many small business owners in California are concerned with protecting them. In order to safeguard important information, you'll need to know what steps to take, from how trade secrets are defined to filing a civil suit if a breach occurs. The following is a guide to the protection of trade secrets to make sure they stay out of reach of your competitors.

Know what a trade secret is

The World Intellectual Property Organization defines trade secrets as information that is not readily accessible by others that also has commercial value. Certain steps must also be taken to keep the information secure, such as by implementing confidentiality agreements with employees and business associates. An example of a trade secret is a process a business develops that helps it manufacture products more efficiently while also reducing costs.

Understand the law

The U.S. Small Business Association explains that while it is considered unlawful in most states to utilize trade secrets developed by another entity, there is no official process to register this information (unlike trademarks and patents). In California, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act states that trade secrets must not be misappropriated or acquired by improper means. Legal action can be taken in this case, which would entail filing a complaint against the other business, and a potential lawsuit. However, by that time the damage will already have been done. It would be best if your business never gets to this point. Therefore, it is important to take preventative action. 

Talk to your staff

Your workers should also be aware of the proper steps for protecting trade secrets. For instance, when creating non-disclosure agreements terms should cover the duration of employment as well as a period after (which prevents a worker from taking important information to another employer). You should also go over the importance of protection and what information is considered sensitive with your workers on a regular basis. This will prevent an inadvertent admission of valuable information to others.

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