It's 11 o'clock: Do You Know Where Your Trade Secrets Are?

"The information age has made it even more important for businesses to protect their confidential data from misappropriation by competitors, former employees, or others who want to benefit from a company’s most valuable asset, its intellectual capital. Many companies do not realize that a wide array of business information may, in fact, be protected under trade secret law...

What may be protected as a trade secret? A trade secret can be almost any information used in the operation of a business, which is both sufficiently valuable and secret enough to allow a business a competitive advantage. There is no need for invention or novelty, which are among the requirements for patent protection...

It isn’t necessary to take unreasonably expensive steps to maintain trade secrets. A trade secret owner must take only "reasonable" steps to ensure the secrecy of information. Courts have held the following measures "reasonable" under some circumstances to maintain the confidentiality of trade secrets:

Advising employees of the confidentiality of the trade secret information.
Limiting access to business information to a "need to know" basis.
Controlling access to physical facilities where trade secret information is located.
Obtaining non-disclosure agreements from third parties before allowing them access to such confidential information.

Developing and implementing a plan to protect your confidential business information is essential. Here are a few steps you can take:

Conduct employee background checks...Execute written agreements...Educate your work force...Institute an information control policy...Secure your virtual and physical facilities...Audit your trade secret portfolio... Conduct exit interviews..." Adopt and enforce a blogging policy.

Read much more in this article by Scott D. Marrs and John W. Lynd.