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Goldberg As an investment adviser or financial planner, you are in the knowledge business. If you were a retail store or a manufacturer, you would no doubt have a theft-detection and protection policy, but what about your knowledge business? If valuable information to your firm was developed independently and uniquely, it can be a trade secret. At first blush, you may be hard pressed to think of trade secret information trade secret protection program your firm that you would want to protect from theft.

Consider how you would react if your biggest competitor gained access to each information category. Would you lose business? Would you lose employees? Would it cause you financial pain? If so, then it is necessary to protect it.

The serial number makes the car unique to you. It is incumbent on you to ensure that all people working formally or informally at your firm understand the importance of the information behind your front door.

In addition to employees, you should include these resources in your trade secret protection TSP program:. The law is clear. If you do not treat confidential information as truly confidential then protection will not exist when you find the need to recover from theft. With few exceptions, a TSP program has minimal costs, but it does have a huge impact when needed to make a misappropriation claim.

The best way to prepare a TSP program is to approach the task as a would-be thief. Start outside at the front door and ask yourself: What other doors give trade secret protection program Who is responsible for ensuring that the doors are locked when the office is closed?

Having a clear understanding of what is to be protected and the protection methods themselves, the final step involves internal communications. As you can see, a TSP program costs little to execute. However, should you find yourself in a situation in which an employee is leaving your firm, being able to recite to the court not only the features of your TSP program, but to discuss its enforcement measures provides immense legal value should the ex-employee end up in a competitive situation.

Faced with an ex-employee working at a competitor, an active TSP program allows you to engage legal recourse with low cost but great impact. Often, the presence of a well-crafted and maintained TSP program will be sufficient to blunt the misappropriation immediately with little more than a strongly worded cease and desist letter from trade secret protection program attorney.

As such, your payoff comes in two forms: The true focus in any confidential information and trade secret protection program is preventing your current and future competitors from access to your valuable knowledge assets.

Although there is a do-it-yourself pathway to enacting a TSP program, there may be benefits to having a legal expert set up and monitor the program. Trade secret protection program a knowledge-based economy, information represents enormous value. Understanding this value and treating it as such leads to appropriate protective measures that bring with it the force of the law.

Goldberg helps individuals, families, businesses, and entrepreneurs plan their estates, protect their assets, and minimize their tax bills. Turn on more accessible mode. Turn off more accessible mode. It looks like your browser does not have JavaScript enabled.

Please turn on JavaScript and try again. Are You Using this Strategy Appropriately? About the Journal Contribute. Information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or trade secret protection program that derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to or readily ascertainable trade secret protection program appropriate means by other persons who might obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.

Protecting All Risk Exposures It is incumbent on you to ensure that all people working formally or informally at your firm understand the importance of the information behind your front door. In addition to employees, you should include these resources in your trade secret protection TSP program: Part-time and temporary employees Summer or seasonal interns Technology, marketing, and janitorial service vendors or contractors Do You Treat Your Information as Valuable? As you enter your office, verify the procedures followed in the reception area.

Do we have a sign-in and sign-out register? Are guests escorted to offices and conference rooms? Is the reception desk and surrounding area devoid of confidential information? When the receptionist leaves for a break, lunch, meeting, or at the end of the day, are all papers put into a trade secret protection program After addressing the reception area, you get into the meat of the TSP program.

Are file cabinets locked? Is hard-copy information deemed confidential identified as such on documents and folders? If a computer is turned on, is the logon password protected? Are desks, credenzas, bookcases, and the floor clean of any confidential and valuable information? Do you review the TSP program as a part of your new employee orientation? Do you review your TSP program with temporary workers, interns, and for-hire consultants?

Do you have an annual update of the program for all involved? Is old documentation shredded and the electronic versions archived and deleted? Confidentiality and Non-Solicitation Provisions Trade secret protection program true focus in any confidential information and trade secret protection trade secret protection program is preventing your current and future competitors from access to your valuable knowledge assets.

Employees may better understand the importance of a TSP program in the presence of an outside legal expert. As trade secret protection program employer, you can operate in the role of serving the best interests of the firm and let the outside lawyer communicate the harsh realities of a violation.

A legal review creates an accountability relationship to ensure the TSP program remains active. An annual TSP program audit and employee update eliminates the risk of trade secret protection program ignored program that would substantially reduce legal leverage.

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In today's highly mobile and competitive world, employees frequently move between companies within the same industry. Rarely a day goes by without a news report of another high-profile theft of important data from a company or the loss of key employees to competitors.

Employee mobility, coupled with the digitalization of company assets, has increased the need for creative and thoughtful protection of valuable company data. Because of technology like the camera-equipped cellphone, iPad, thumb drives and other mobile devises, it has become easier than ever for employees, especially disgruntled or irresponsible ones, to take and disseminate confidential information to the detriment of their current and former employers.

Intangible assets of companies have risen from about 20 percent in to currently 87 percent. The economic impact of trade secret theft, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report, is estimated at percent GDP of the United States and other advanced industrial economies. And as much as 71 percent of data security compromises go undetected, according to a Trustwave Global Security Report.

These are the current and former employees and current and former business partners. The objectives of this group are competitive advantage, financial gain and national goals. And their method of operation is spear phishing. Employees 34 percent current, 29 percent former remain the most cited source of compromise. Incidents attributed to business partners climbed to 22 percent from 18 percent. Not surprisingly, there is also an increase in litigation of trade secret theft.

According to panelist Russell Beck , a partner with Beck Reed Riden LLP in Boston, litigation involving trade secrets and or noncompete agreements has increased fourfold over the last 15 years from cases to 2, in A noncompete agreement is one of the tools used to protect trade secrets from employee misuse.

The landscape is changing in the U. Current state or U. The Economic Espionage Act of makes the theft or misappropriation of a trade secret a federal crime.

And there is currently legislation, the Defend Trade Secrets Act, being debated in Congress and moving close to being passed with bipartisan support. A key feature of that law is protection for whistleblowers who disclose confidential information to report a crime. Marsh , a partner with Hahn Loeser in Columbus, Ohio. In order to prove any claim on trade secret misappropriation, you have to establish the existence of your trade secret, which Becks said generally requires three things — information, confidentiality and value.

Having key employees sign agreements is an important step in protecting your trade secrets. Whether it is a nondisclosure agreement or other restrictive covenants such as a noncompete, nonsolicitation agreement of customer or no raid agreement. Marsh advised conducting regular audits of key employee agreements. He recommended using an outside counsel to conduct a review either annually or semiannually.

This will help uncover drafting errors, change in business lines and it will also ensure that key players have enforceable agreements. And Marsh said that it is also important that you follow through on your policies and procedures. Policies offer the opportunity to provide great detail on confidentiality and other obligations, serve as back-up protection if there is a drafting error in an agreement and as a mechanism for addressing computer use and personal devices.

Passman outlined five best practices when creating a culture of confidentiality and compliance with employees. The March 15 program was moderated by Robert B. Evolve or risk extinction. Disclosure of confidences in controversies with clients: State data breach notification laws just got crazier. How to deliver bad news to clients. Tips on finding, preparing expert witnesses from seasoned litigators. Someone online hates you: Law firm bankruptcies, dissolutions: Ethical and legal considerations.

Celebrate spring in a new Mercedes. Policies, procedures and record — these must be communicated to your employees, and you need procedures in place to implement those policies. Information protection team — identify people across the organization who are responsible for ensuring that policies are in place and procedures to implemented.

Risk assessment —do an assessment to understand what your key trade secrets are, where they are, who has access to them, who may be interested in taking them and using them inappropriately. Management of third parties — know who they are and how they manage their employees within your key business partners.

Security and confidentiality management — both in the physical world and the network world. Training and capacity-building — be very clear with them and your third party about their roles in protecting your trade secrets. Corrective actions and improvements — what do you do once you learn there has been a theft; how do go back and identify how it happened so it will not happen again? Starts with the interview and hiring process: Undertake background checks and critically review prospective hires Explain the rules Emphasize the importance of nondisclosure and trade secret protection agreements.

Reinforced in contracts and onboarding: Maintained through education and training: Establish an ongoing awareness and education campaign Use technology and explain why it is being used Advise employees on the consequences of their taking or disclosing trade secrets. Validated through limiting disclosures, monitoring: Print Feedback A A.