Your company’s engine hums along, making progress in its goal to be among the best within your industry. You have a skilled group of leaders behind and in front of the scenes to create, invent, launch, promote and firmly advocate for your products. This list of products helps you secure a steady stream of new and existing clients.
You have great confidence in that your company will continue to grow and succeed. What could go wrong? Along the way, one of your key regional executives decides to leave and takes a few key employees with him to one of your competitors. These departures, which some consider defections, have you worried. Those concerns are confirmed when you discover that, after a few months, this competitor has “righted its ship” due to the introduction of some products similar to yours. You suspect the theft of trade secrets, the intellectual property that your company guarded so well. It is time to act.
Non-disclosure agreements, potential lawsuits
This is too much of a coincidence. Your company’s trade secrets were likely stolen and used to create similar products by the rival company. In the long run, those actions of a few defectors will harm your company’s morale and bottom line.
Here are some steps to fend off the chances of having stolen trade secrets as well as what to do when you suspect such activity:
- Understand what aspects of your business can be legally protected. Trade secrets fall within this category.
- Non-disclosure agreements are legal ways to protect your company’s trade secrets. Who needs to sign them? Anyone who works for your company, and this group includes full-time employees, part-time employees and contractors.
- Work closely with your company’s legal counsel as well as your IT security team when investigating suspicious activities. Unsurprisingly, you may discover that this behavior has been taking place for lengthy periods of time. This investigation also likely will disclose the types of stolen intellectual property.
- If you have evidence implicating a current employee, take appropriate action. Termination is likely the only solution.
- Begin building a case and framework for a lawsuit against any competing companies that possess your trade secrets.
Your team worked hard to get to this stage of success, and now you face major obstacles due to the theft of your firm’s trade secrets. Do not let the deeds of a few dishonest and greedy individuals tarnish your company.