Intellectual property is a necessity for most businesses today, whether you realize you are engaging in creating it and owning it or not. As soon as you make it or have it designed, it is yours. Most new companies start out building their brand. This can be an extensive marketing task, from complex advertising campaigns to creating logos (trademarks) to slogans indicating what you do (service marks), and so much more.
Copyrights come into play once artistic works have been created too, whether you are in the business of software, architecture, screenplays, literature, music, etc. Patents generally apply to inventions you have made (whether they are utility, design, or plant patents) and want to be given exclusive rights for manufacturing, selling, and importing. Trade secrets, however, are different because you are not actually granted a license for this type of intellectual property; rather it is defined as “a piece of information that has independent economic value by not being generally known and can reasonably be maintained a secret.”
Trade secrets are protected by the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, but as a business there are numerous measures you must take such as identifying what needs protection and labeling it, having proper storage, and keeping it secret. There should be suitable security measures taken to protect trade secrets, and employees should understand what the definition is of a trade secret, and if they have access to them at work, they should be apprised of the rules regarding confidentiality.
You may have hired independent contractors who were responsible for creating the contents of trade secrets, and at times this type of ownership can get tricky if it was not spelled out to begin with. Speak with your business attorney regarding the use of non-disclosure agreements and create company policy to be outlined in any available employee manuals. Most importantly, when an employee leaves your company or their job is terminated, they should be required to participate in an exit interview. A discussion regarding confidentiality of trade secrets should occur then too. Remember: if you are not able to protect your trade secret properly, the government is not responsible for it, and any responsibility on their part is eliminated.
Do you need legal assistance with a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!