Who is stealing your confidential information?
Is it your employees, partners or hackers?
Everybody has the right to earn a living and many people think this right extends to removing confidential information from one employer and moving it to the next.
What do I mean by confidential information?
Business plans, test results, competitive analysis, customer database, non-patented inventions, software code, algorithms, manufacturing processes, formulations etc.
Most confidential information is leaked from your business by employees and via partners, but the thing is, that this is mainly inadvertent and not deliberate. If it is not absolutely clear to people what is confidential and what is not, then they will make mistakes.
Many companies consider that one advantage from hiring external consultants is their ability to cross pollinate fresh ideas from one business to the next. To some extent this may be true but not when it extends to moving confidential information and secrets from one business to a competitor. A major consultancy firm was fined $240 million in the United States for doing just this.
In August 2022 Optics ML claimed that Altada had accessed its technical expertise via its investor Rocktop Partners. This is worth reflecting on because it is very common amongst the VC and investment community to refuse to sign Non Disclosure Agreements, sometimes they might even state Something like ‘there’s nothing new and we have seen it all before’. I would caution against working with any investors that hold that perspective.
The best way to prevent such confidential information from leaking inadvertently or being shared deliberately is to set up a trade secrets programme and classify confidential information in terms of its importance and value to the business.
Trade secrets legislation has improved significantly in the last seven years and although developed by governments to prevent state sponsored industrial espionage, it works equally well for companies.
Is it time to develop a trade secrets programme for your business?
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Exalt IP experts in Business Intellectual Property.
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For over 20 years I have been helping business to Win With IP: Using intellectual property to protect ideas, creations, inventions, and competitive advantage.
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