In a recent press release, the FBI warned that green technology, such as the technology behind hybrid vehicles, is “an increasingly attractive target to would-be information thieves looking to make a fast buck.”

The FBI’s warning should serve as a reminder to all technology companies to take proactive steps to safeguard trade secrets and other valuable confidential and proprietary information. This includes companies in the green energy space, other green technologies, and other technologies. Technology companies are not the only ones at risk. Many traditional businesses also maintain their competitive edge through confidential and proprietary software, formulas and processes. Other important proprietary information may include customer lists, supplier lists, and financial information.

Although the laws vary from state to state, trade secret statutes almost invariably require the owner to have taken reasonable steps to maintain the secrecy of the information. If confidential information does not qualify as a trade secret, it may be protected by contract, depending on the circumstances.

Companies need to take proactive action to preserve their trade secrets and confidential business information. Such steps typically include the use of non-disclosure agreements, limiting access to the information, and using available technology to limit and control access.