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How to proactively protect your trade secrets

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in Centerpiece,Employment Law,Human Resources

trade secretDon’t take employee discretion for granted! You need a confidentiality policy to protect trade secrets and other proprietary information from leaving your organization. You may even need to have certain employees sign individual confidentiality agreements, which are easier to implement than noncompete agreements.

Your policy should should inform employees about the need for confidentiality and outline what information employees cannot disclose, as well as the penalties for violations.

Use the following clause to introduce your confidentiality policy.

“Employees understand and agree that in the course of employment, they will receive information on projects, practices, customers and potential customers that is confidential in nature. Employees agree to maintain the strict confidence of such proprietary information both during and after the term of employment.”

Here are some additional steps for enforcing your confidentiality policy:

  • Since different employees know different pieces of information, you may want to talk one-on-one with each worker to emphasize exactly what they are obligated to keep confidential.
  • Disclosures are often made inadvertently, so educate employees on the kinds of situations in which they may unwittingly reveal protected information.
  • Beyond your policy, utilize security safeguards, such as computer passwords, locked file cabinets and  coded documents. Ensure that confidential documents  are clearly marked as confidential.
  • Make it perfectly clear that work-related ideas belong to the company, not the employee.
  • Reiterate why the policy is in place and what the consequences are for violating it.
  • Be prepared to act. Serious violations may require going to court to uphold a noncompete agreement or to prosecute information theft.

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