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TRADE SECRET BASICS
Proven Ways to Protect Your Competitive Edge
In the race to produce the first self-driving vehicles, Uber enticed Anthony Levandowski, a former employee of its competitor Waymo, to work for them. In the transition between Waymo and Uber, some allege that Mr. Levandowski took circuit board drawings from Waymo that were under development for years. Currently, Uber is facing a $1 billion trade secret suit from Waymo, and this has made many people question the security of their own intellectual property. Here’s what you need to know to better protect your trade secrets from the competition. First, you need to understand what exactly a trade secret is. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act defines a trade secret as “information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that (i) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and (ii) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.”
Some companies go to great lengths to protect their trade secrets. Take the Coca-Cola recipe, for example. It’s locked in a bank vault that can only be opened with the agreement of the Coca-Cola company’s board of directors. Only two employees know the recipe, and their identities are kept secret. They’re not even allowed to fly on the same plane.
Take the Coca-Cola recipe, for example. It’s locked in a bank vault that can only be opened
But less-extreme precautions are taken by companies every day. If you regularly use your trade secrets, it’s best to lock them away after business hours. If they aren’t in a physical form but are stored as a Microsoft Word document or in an Excel file, make sure you’re up to date with your IT security. This includes having two-step verification on workplace computers, using a password on the document itself, and restricting access to these passwords to only those who need them. What’s more, ensure your employees are firmly aware of the risks and characteristics of phishing emails. The most effective way to protect your trade secret, though, is by requiring your employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement before full employment. Altogether, these actions will show any court that you intend to maintain secrecy. These types of cases are always challenging if you’re not well-versed in the complexities of trade secrets. If you have any questions or concerns about protecting your trade secret, reach out to us anytime. You can call us at 407-598- 8407 or 407-377-6688.
If the information you’re worried about falls under this definition and you feel it’s being used outside of your company, you can file a claim. You just need to take two simple steps. First, establish that you took reasonable precautions to prevent the release of the information/ trade secret. Second, you have to prove the trade secret was wrongfully taken. This entails showing how your company stores its information, who has access to it, and whether or not it was subject to confidentiality provisions. with the agreement of the Coca-Cola company’s board of directors. The recipe is only known to two employees, and their identities are kept secret. They’re not even allowed to fly on the same plane.”
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