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Following Trade Secrets Litigation

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.

and

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.”

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

Practically Speaking – Protecting IP Is A Top Concern for Start-Ups and Entrepreneurs

There’s an interesting article over at the The Signal that every entrepreneur and every person interested in starting a business should read. It would sound somewhat cynical coming from me since it advocates taking your business start-up plans to an attorney for an IP review, so I will let Dr. Maureen Stephenson do the talking and convincing.

Key graphs:

Entrepreneurs should start thinking about protecting their intellectual property earlier than most. Small businesses tend to delay this step because of the cost, but if you haven’t applied for copyrights or patents, or registered your trade name and trademark or protected your trade secrets, you may have trouble making your case in court. Entrepreneurs should take their business plans to an experienced intellectual property attorney at the startup. Spending money upfront for legal help can save you from expense later by giving you strong trademark or copyright rights which can deter competitors from infringing. (emphasis mine)

and

Spending the money for legal guidance at the start-up of your business may seem like an additional burden to be avoided, but if you sleep on your intellectual property rights you’ll lose them. Be proactive and you’ll be protected and save money in the long run.

Very good advice indeed and you should read the whole thing. We are seeing more and more that individuals are willing to infringe another’s IP when they believe there is opportunity to do so. It makes sense to limit those opportunities as soon as possible, and to hopefully prevent the infringement from ever occurring–which is much cheaper than a lawsuit. I will have more to say on this topic in a later post.

December 10, 2007 Posted by | copyrights, Intellectual Property, patents, Practically Speaking, Trade Secrets, trademarks | , , , | Leave a comment