Trade secrets are often the most the most valuable assets of a business, and business owners and executives entrust their employees to protect and preserve the trade secret status of the company’s trade secret crown jewels. Under Washington’s Trade Secrets statutes, this requires the business to adopt and employ efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain the secrecy of the trade secrets.
In addition to actually protecting the secrecy of the company's trade secrets, the company also needs to be able to “prove in a court of law” that its trade secrets are subject to efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain their secrecy. To do this the company needs to ensure that it has records and employees that can testify on behalf of the company that the company has a plan and process for protecting the secrecy of its trade secrets.
We suggest that the company’s trade secret protection policy include adding the subject of trade secret protection to the pre-hiring interview topics and pre-hiring documentation. Emphasize even before the company makes an offer to a prospective employee that employees of the company are expected and required to maintain the secrecy of certain business information. Get the prospective employee's buy in on this before making an offer. Then, when sending the pre-hire package that includes (at a minimum) a confidentiality provision, be sure to add language to the cover letter that emphasizes the mission critical requirement to protect the company’s trade secret crown jewels.
While there is more to a trade secret protection strategy than these pre-hiring tips, these tips can help set the table for a strong, and provable "in a court of law", trade secrets protection policy for your business.
2016 | Copyright | Mark D. Walters
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