Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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Understanding how to protect trade secrets is important

Many individuals and business owners are familiar with the concept of intellectual property. When they think about protecting intellectual property, however, they may think first of patents. But there are different types of intellectual property that are in need of protection that may not include inventions. For instance, names may need to be trademarked and written material may need to have a copyright. These matters can be critically important at any time during a business' life, from formation to sale.

Companies may also wonder about what trade secrets are and how they can be protected, including in circumstances of a business sale. Most companies have trade secrets which generally include "any formula, method, or information that gives you a competitive advantage." Types of trade secrets can vary by the type of business. According to experts, most trade secret compromises are accidental.

A well-informed trade-secrets policy can be beneficial and helpful to a company. It is important to both protect trade secrets and also demonstrate that an effort is being made to protect them. On that note, it is important to take steps to protect a trade secret. Companies should categorize proprietary information, label secrets as secrets, and limit the number of individuals with access to the secret. Employees should be properly educated concerning the company's trade-secrets policy and non-disclosure agreements should be signed by employees. Non-disclosure agreements also provide protection in other types of circumstances such as when a deal is being made.

Protecting trade secrets is important and can be achieved with the proper know-how and guidance. Any number of individuals, business owners, businesses, and companies should be familiar with how to properly and effectively protect themselves from harm in a way that also serves to promote the success and growth of their businesses.

Source: Inc., "How to Protect Your Trade Secrets," Dec. 1, 2009

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