Why Businesses Allow the Crown Jewels To Walk Out of The Door by Ignoring Trade Secrets
As a business owner, your number one goal is: to run a successful company and make money.
There are two ways to make sure that you achieve this goal.
The first way is, let’s face it, obvious):
Sell your goods or services as much (and for as much) as you can.
(We can all agree with that)
The second way is slightly less obvious, and needs more attention from business owners:
Collect assets and protect them from being devalued, or stolen.
Of course, “assets” can take many different forms.
If you ask the person on the street what an asset is – they might think of: money, property, factory equipment… All things that are incredibly valuable to the business.
But there is another kind of asset that are often overlooked.
These are called Intangible assets.
Intangible assets are the ideas and knowledge that underpin your business.
They are things like your: brand, designs and patents.
Intangible assets also include things like: the crucial practices, processes and methods; that underpin how you work.
They also include vital collections of information you rely upon. Things like your email database and lists of clients and suppliers.
If these assets fall into the wrong hands, just like the keys to the factory, it can be incredibly damaging for your business.
And it does happen. A lot.
Most of the time it’s not that a competitor or malicious actor actively tries to devalue or steal your intangible assets. The problem more is, often than not, a bit closer to home.
Here are some common ways this can happen…
A founding member leaves and takes some important knowledge with him.
The company fails to understand what should be confidential and shares too much information internally.
A potential investor walks away after asking the company about their unique designs.
A disgruntled employee leaves the company and takes a database of clients with him.
A supplier is enlisted who communicates your critical information to his other contacts.
A temporary hire takes clients and designs to their next employer.
The company divests one part of the business but mistakenly gives away additional information as well.
And many more…
We see companies devastated by this, time and time again.
It keeps happening because it’s not obvious to business owners that:
It’s as important to protect this information – as it is to lock the office at the end of the day.
So, what can be done?
These kinds of business-critical information can be protected using:
Through trade secrets, you can identify:
- which information and knowledge is most important to your business,
- the value of this knowledge and information in real terms (pounds and pence; dollars and cents),
- who should be given access to it and the associated risks that come with this,
- which legal mechanisms should be put into place to protect it.
Most of the time, the value of trade secrets only becomes clear to business owners – after the things mentioned above have happened to them.
At that point it becomes incredible laborious and costly to back track and integrate a comprehensive approach to trade secrets in your business.
A lot of the time, unfortunately, the horse may already have bolted…
Trade Secrets Webinar
For business owners looking to get a grip on solid grip on trade secrets before damage occurs; we have a VirtuosoCAST hosted by Trade Secrets expert, Donal O’Connell which explains:
- what trade secrets are,
- what they can do for businesses; and,
- why they are more important than ever for businesses.
You can watch this here.
If you would like to speak to any of our team of specialist intellectual property solicitors, call: