Everyone has secrets. Patents, copyrights, secret ingredients. It’s what makes us special. Those unique characteristics make up our marketability, and we need to protect them. Read on to see what 5 steps YOU need to take today to protect your trade secrets.
Trade Secrets. We all have a few of them. That’s how WD-40, Coca-Cola, and you make money. It’s like the secret ingredient in Po’s father’s secret ingredient soup. If you haven’t seen Kung Fu Panda, you better watch that before you learn more about trade secrets. If you have, then you already know what I’m about to tell you. The “secret” to all these things is actually very important, and often the very lifeline of the business. Coke wouldn’t be Coke if all other colas tasted the same.
Every business has their trade secrets, their ways to conduct business, the reason they attract and keep customers. These are some of the most valuable assets a company can have, though they might not be able to account for them. And though you might not be able to put a number to them yet, cyber thieves and hackers can, and they are going after them.
Some trade secrets are kept secret because, from a marketing perspective, there’s a certain allure if something’s secret,” said Scott Testa, a Business Professor at Cabrini College. “This is probably more of a marketing exercise than what I’d consider a scientific exercise.” If you have nothing to market, you have no business. What trade secrets would you lose if you got hacked?
Jared Braithwaite, a registered patent attorney, and shareholder at the law firm of Maschoff Brennan gives 4 steps to protecting these vital parts of your company. Along with my added step (you could call it my secret sauce step), here are 5 steps to protecting your company’s trade secrets:
Identify Trade Secrets
“it is helpful for a business to understand where its trade secrets are kept and determine what protective measures and retention policies are applicable to them.” WD-40 has their recipe locked away in a bank vault, and it’s only been outside the vault twice in 50 years. Make sure you know what your secrets are, and where they are located. Make sure your employees know what is secret too. Can’t have them accidentally tell everyone your secret ingredient.
Implement Protective Measures
“Use of computer and network access restrictions, strong password policies, firewalls and other network security should all be considered as means to protect trade secrets from malicious outside actors, as well as to prohibit access by employees that do not need access to trade secrets to perform their job functions.”
“Employees often represent the most vulnerable point of a cyber security scheme. In addition to basic cybersecurity training that focuses on the dangers of email, phishing, malware, etc., relevant employees may also receive training on policies and protections applicable to trade secrets.”
Detect Improper Access
“Systems and methods may be implemented to detect breaches if and when they happen. Theft of trade secrets can originate from inside a business, such as from a departing employee, as opposed to an outside actor. Accordingly, companies may also implement systems to detect threats to trade secrets from within.” I’m sure we’ve all had nightmares of employee espionage, and the truth is that stuff like that doesn’t only happen in the movies. Non-disclosure documents are a must, as is proactive checks and system scans.
Respond and Recover from Trade Secret Misappropriation
Big words, but basically it means to have a response plan. Make sure you know what you’re going to do if you get hacked, or if your trade secrets are stolen. Do you have legal resources ready to assist? Do you have methods to find those former employees? Can you trace the hack? Get ready, because you never know when it might happen.
The Secret Sauce
Pat yourself on the back. I’m serious, do it. You have something no one else does, a trade secret that makes you valuable. Now go sell it. Go use it every way you can to make lucrative amounts of money, and then use that money to better protect your secret. Market it, sell it, convince your employees that it’s incredible and worth protecting. Because in all reality, it is.
If you need advice on how to better protect you, your company, and your trade secrets, contact Fibernet today for a free consultation today! Fill out the form below or call 800.305.6995.