Alicia Koepke Outlines Strategies for Trade Secret Protection in Manufacturing Today
In the February 2018 issue of Manufacturing Today, Alicia Koepke authored an article outlining effective strategies for companies to protect their valuable trade secrets. “There are several requirements that must be met for information to qualify – and therefore be protected – as a ‘trade secret,’” Koepke said. “But, one of the requirements that often is missing should be the most obvious requirement of all: the owner of a “trade secret” must take reasonable efforts to keep the information a ‘secret.’”
Nearly all states have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) requiring trade secret information to be “the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.” At the federal level, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (TSA) requires trade secret owners to have “taken reasonable measures to keep such information secret.” With those state and federal statutes in mind, there are a number of steps companies can take to increase the likelihood that it will meet its reasonable-efforts burden, including:
- Limit Access: Limit access to trade secret information to only those employees and others who need to know it, and require individuals to sign written agreements to maintain secrecy of the information.
- Physical Protection: Create barriers to the information, such as with password protection of electronic data, restricted access to portions of the manufacturing plants containing secret information and recording logs of those who obtain access to information and for what purpose.
- Ongoing Reminders: Reminding individuals of information’s secrecy by identifying it as “confidential, reminding them through correspondence that it must be protected and reinforcing its sensitivity in face-to-face communications.
- Employee Exit: Remind departing employees of confidentiality obligations and asses risk during the exit interview.
- Misappropriated Secrets: Take prompt action if it is determined that trade secret information is being improperly shared.
For the full article, please click here.