Four measures you can take to protect yourself against trade secret theft

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Do you keep secrets?

Most people do, and so do most businesses. And though you might not be aware of it, you likely depend on one or the other yourself. 

What if, for example, a disgruntled employee walks out with your complete client list? What if a supplier tells your competition what exactly you purchase every month? What if Pepsi got hold of Coca Cola’s original recipe? 

In these examples, you have three categories of trade secrets. The first is customer information. The second is operational information. And the third is an example for the backbone of a product. 

Think about your daily business for a minute. What information is there a competitor could use against you, or to outbid you? Who has access to it? How is this information processed? 

All of this matters. Whether you’re hacked, a former executive copies your own winning approach, or someone sells your email list to a competitor, you’ll have to act very quickly in order to contain the damage. 

The good news is that you can turn to the authorities and courts for help. Courts have it in their power to order someone to uphold your trade secrets if they got hold of them illicitly, for instance. Or they can award damages. 

The bad news is that the less you are prepared, the longer this will take—and the more expensive it will be. For example, if you are unable to tell a court what exactly constitutes a trade secret in your business, defining this alone will see you lose valuable time. Time that may cost you your business. 

So what can you do? You can prepare. Here is how: 

  1. Define very clearly what counts as a trade secret in your business.
  2. Add clauses regarding the confidentiality of this information to your business and employment contracts.
  3. Consider adding a contractual penalty clause to your agreements.
  4. Develop internal policies that establish clear processes for how trade secrets are handled and communicated in your business.   

If you have any questions regarding business and trade secrecy and the means you have to protect yourself against potential problems, Partner Paul Keres and lawyer at Glikman Alvin LEVIN Law Mari Anne Valberg are happy to help. You can reach them at +372 686 0000 or write them an email: paul.keres@levinlaw.ee or mari.anne.valberg@levinlaw.ee

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