As you may have heard, one of the country’s most closely guarded trade secrets has changed locations. Coca-Cola has created a high security vault in Atlanta to house its “secret formula” for the popular soft drink.
Until this week, the only official written copy was allegedly kept under lock and key in a bank vault. According to the myth surrounding the trade secret, only two people at any given time are allowed to be privy to secret recipe. The same two people are prohibited from taking the same plane in the event it crashes, and the trade secrets are taken to the grave.
Of course, not all businesses can afford to go to such great lengths to protect their trade secrets. However, you should take reasonable steps to protect your confidential information.
Below are a few practices that all businesses can employ:
- Have all employees, independent contractors, and temporary personnel execute confidentiality agreements. These agreements should define the term trade secrets, limit how employees can utilize trade secrets, and outline the legal repercussions if they breach the agreement.
- Train employees, independent contractors, and temporary personnel about how to manage confidential information.
- Clearly designate any information that the company considers confidential. This can be as easy as stamping “confidential and proprietary” on it.
- Limit access to confidential information to a “need to know” basis. Use security measures such as locked file cabinets or password protection to prevent others from accessing it.
- Require vendors, suppliers, and potential customers to sign non-disclosure agreements if they will encounter confidential and proprietary information.
- Advise employees, independent contractors, and temporary personnel that any confidential information that they create on behalf of the company is the property of the company.
- Take steps to ensure that all confidential information is returned or destroyed when employees, independent contractors, and temporary personnel terminate their relationship with the company.
Of course, these are only a few general tips. To ensure that your company’s trade secrets are thoroughly protected, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney.