With the explosion of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, it is likely that many of your employees use social media for both personal and business interactions. While these tools can be a great way to spread the word about your company’s products or services, they can also compromise proprietary information, including trade secrets.
As I continually remind my clients, trade secrets are a valuable business asset, but only if they remain secret. Therefore, it is critical for companies to have policies and procedures in place to prevent employees from revealing confidential information via social media.
Below are a few tips for safeguarding your trade secrets:
- Create policies for employees that clearly detail the company’s expectations regarding the use of social media.
- Include social media provisions in employment-related contracts such as non-disclosure and non-compete agreements.
- Closely monitor the use of social networking media even for business purposes to reduce the risk of leaking confidential information, even inadvertently.
- Thoroughly investigate any social media provider before using it to market your business. For instance, it is important to understand the provider’s policies regarding the ownership of information that is posted on its site as well as what controls are in place to protect customer data from hacking and other security threats.
- Finally, stay on your toes—social media continues to evolve and will likely pose more IP challenges in the future.
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.