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What can happen when your business’ trade secrets get stolen

On Behalf of | Aug 28, 2023 | Trade Secrets

Your business’ trade secrets are what set you apart. They are what give you an edge over the competition and make the products or services you provide unique in the industry. If they were revealed to your competitors, your ability to stay in business could be in serious jeopardy.

Trade secrets can range from secret recipes like the formula for Coca-Cola or KFC’s herbs and spices mixture to proprietary software or an invention, to business strategies like advertising campaigns, sales methods and customer lists. Keeping other companies from learning this sensitive information is crucial to maintaining and improving your competitive edge.

Unfortunately, trade secrets theft is a huge problem in Southern California. Former employees bring their files to a new job, and competitors use underhanded means, like hacking, social engineering and corporate espionage, to access sensitive data.

Keeping trade secrets secure

Some trade secrets can be protected using patents, though they typically only stay in force for 20 years. Other methods of keeping your trade secrets private include:

  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and confidentiality agreements for employees, in which they agree not to give trade secrets to competitors during and after their employment with you, on penalty of litigation.
  • Non-compete agreements that prevent former employees from taking a job with a competitor, usually within a certain geographic limit and for a certain period of time.
  • Company policies and employee training to keep data secure.
  • Tools to monitor and detect suspicious or unauthorized attempts to access data.

Theft of trade secrets is also a crime under federal law.

For both preventative measures and enforcing your rights, an experienced business attorney can be very helpful.