Trade secrets and other types of proprietary information are of critical importance to companies in our technology-based economy. Protecting confidential and proprietary business information, maintaining relationships with key employees and safeguarding good will is very important to the survival of a business. Huge investments in research and development can be rendered wasted when confidential information and know how can be freely employed by competitors. That can happen if such information is not properly handled.
What are Trade Secrets?
A Trade Secret is any business information not generally known to others. It may be customer, prospective customer or supplier identity; information about sales, revenue or profits, technical information such as formulas, systems, methods or operations; and business plans and projections. To qualify as a trade secret, the owner of that secret must have taken reasonable measures to protect its secrecy and it must have some proven economic value. Maintaining a Trade Secrets program is easier said than done; all you have to do is keep it a secret.
Trade secret protection sometimes is more desirable than patents or other forms of intellectual property protection; unlike patented inventions, confidential business information and know-how can be owned perpetually if kept secret. Trade secret protection is also often a preferred where a patent would be difficult to enforce.
In a highly competitive environment, theft of trade secrets, raiding of key employees, employee disloyalty and breaches of fiduciary duty can cause irreparable loss to a business.
Preventing Trade Secrets Violations
To adequately protect trade secrets, you must determine all parties that have access to them. Depending on the situation, this may include employees, owners and officers, salespeople, contractors, vendors, investors and consultants. The usual steps taken to protect these trade secret rights include the use of employee agreements with confidentiality restrictions, non-disclosure agreements with vendors, third party developers and licensees, distribution of the software in executable form only and heightened security of storage areas for trade secrets.
While no contract or process can absolutely guarantee that your information will remain confidential, you must have these things in place in case the information is disclosed. You can take action against parties that misappropriate trade secrets if you have taken adequate measures to protect them.
What we do to help you to protect your Trade Secrets
At Archilex Consultinsg SA we help our Clients determine what they need to put in place to protect their trade secrets from employees and competitors. We also evaluate the processes and procedures to see how effective they are at maintaining secrecy.
We provide a full range of trade secrets representation and services, including:
- Identification and evaluation services
- Trade secret and know-how licensing/cross-licensing
- Competitive intelligence services
- In-house trade secret retention policies
- Due diligence investigations
- Employee entrance/exit counseling
- Employee training policies
- Compliance reviews and policies
- Non-disclosure/non-compete/non-solicitation agreements
- Domestic and international litigation through our lawyers network