Trade Secret Leaks
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
There is a growing awareness of the value of Trade Secrets and the need to protect them.
The first step in preparing a trade secret protection plan is to pinpoint the weak links where trade secrets and confidential information could be compromised.
The three types of trade secret leaks
1. The Intentional Leak–when there is a malicious intent; for example, an external entity that tries to hack your system for information, or an internal resource misappropriates confidential information. These types of leaks can often be addressed by IT & Cyber technologies. There are many services that provide tools and services to monitor information flow, safeguard the IT systems and prevent access by unauthorized users.
2. The Ignorant Leak –when there is a lack of awareness regarding trade secrets, for example, when confidential information is not marked or managed, or when employees do not know what information qualifies as core assets. All employees need to be clear about what information is allowed to be shared, with whom and when.
These types of leaks are usually addressed by deploying internally focused measures. By enacting a trade secret protection policy, procedures for managing confidential information and employee training.
However, in my experience, the 'Inevitable Leak' is the most complex.
3. The Inevitable Leak occurs during the usual course of doing business, which requires sharing of information, including confidential information and trade secrets. The "inevitable" sharing of information carries a risk of trade secret misappropriation.
Doing business involves building relationships and trust. However, business partners change over times. Business partners have their own agendas and they have other, third party business partners. Doing business includes formal meetings in business settings as well casual and off-the-record conversations.
In this case, there is no template or fixed solutions. Reducing the risk of trade secret misappropriation while doing business requires increased awareness and planning.
Awareness and planning implies managing your core knowhow. Identifying trade secrets and confidential information, classifying them with respect to value and degree of confidentiality, maintaining access control measures and monitoring trade secret metrics on a regular basis.
Bottom line - if you are not thinking about it, you are probably giving it away.