A trade secret is information used by your business or a procedure, method or technique that your business employs that is not generally known to others and contributes to the success of your business. Well-known examples include Coca-Cola’s formula and Col. Sander’s Original Recipe of 11 herbs and spices. Trade secrets may also include customer lists, manufacturing processes, supply chain information, revenue and production costs, business plans, and future products. Certain trade secrets may be also be patentable.

Activity trackers Jawbone and Fitbit are currently embroiled in litigation over Fitbit’s hiring key Jawbone employees who allegedly provided such trade secrets to Fitbit. Implementing a plan to protect your valuable trade secrets from inappropriate disclosure or theft is essential to continued success.

3 Tips for Protecting Your Company's Trade Secrets

  1. Establish procedures to limit access to trade secret information to help control its distribution.
  2. Require confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with employees, as well as any party that might come into contact with proprietary information (suppliers, investors, etc.).
  3. Ensure that employees also sign a non-compete agreement, limiting their right to work for a direct competitor.

An attorney can help decide how best to protect your proprietary and confidential information, as well as draft company agreements and implement policies and procedures to safeguard the future of your business.