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Heading Off Trade Secret Theft

I found an interesting article over at Business Week that was written last year by Lisa Fleming, an attorney in Boston, Mass. The article has valuable and pertinent information for any small business owner concerned about trade secret theft–and if you’re a small business owner not concerned about trade secret theft, then you should definitely read the article. I guarantee that you will be concerned after reading the article–at least, you should be.

Key graphs:

For smaller employers, there are a number of reasons why the effects of trade secret theft can be so devastating. Often, small firms are think tanks for new technology. Their main competitive advantage is their flexibility and their ability to turn out a new product or a twist on an existing product that gives them an important slice of the market. When an employee leaves for a competing firm or to start her own business, and takes with her valuable confidential information, that can wipe out the small firm’s sales.


The first company to develop a key technology in an industry like telecommunications, for instance, gets a huge competitive and financial edge, even if it’s relatively short-lived. Losing that edge because of intellectual property theft can have disastrous effects, especially on a smaller company. Losing a key trade secret can mean that a company loses its dominance in a key market, loses millions in sales, and ultimately even fails entirely.

and, speaking about where businesses can get advice for trade secret protection:

Employers can draw upon their human-resources personnel or consultants in this area. They should also have attorneys who are savvy about this part of the law review their plans and legal documents, to maximize their protection. It’s an area fraught with expensive litigation, so it’s important to make sure up-front that your written agreements and company policies are as strong and as specific as they can be, so they’ll stand up in court. (emphasis mine)

Read the whole thing.

That last paragraph touches on an issue that I will continue to stress–it is much less expensive to lay the proper groundwork up front for a trade secrets protection plan than it is to litigate later. While litigation may be inevitable in some cases, when your trade secret protection plans are properly established and properly followed, a settlement early in the process stands a much greater chance; and that will ultimately save you money.

For more information, on this topic click on my Free Report entitled “5 Biggest Mistakes Businesses Make Protecting Trade Secrets.”


December 13, 2007 Posted by | Intellectual Property, misappropriation, Trade Secrets | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment