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Employees pose a major threat to trade secrets

Posted by William J. Cook | Aug 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

Trade secrets and other intellectual property play major roles in how many businesses operate. It is often imperative that companies have unique ways of providing services or manufacturing products that helps them remain competitive in the industry. As a business owner yourself, you certainly understand the importance of staying on top in your field of business.

Of course, as a business owner, you also know that trade secrets are often under the threat of potential theft. If a competing company gets ahold of important information relating to your business operations, your company could easily face detrimental impacts. While you may have taken steps to protect your intellectual property, your employees may pose the biggest threat to your success.

Mistakes are still misdeeds

Because you cannot run your company entirely on your own, you need your employees to carry out various tasks. As a result, they often need to become privy to confidential or otherwise important information. You need to make it clear that trade secrets stay with your company and your company alone. Even if a worker comes up with an idea or invention while working for you, that information no longer belongs to the employee.

If this protection is not immensely clear, a worker may think that he or she can take the idea or invention to another company. However, this mistaken thought can still be considered an illegal act, and you may have reason to take legal action.

Knowing how to use the information

Employees also pose a threat because they typically receive training on how to use the information or otherwise understand its importance. As a result, they could easily take the information they have and put it into action somewhere else, causing harm to your business. A particularly disgruntled employee may even set out to purposefully harm your company by using this tactic.

Easy access

Again, your employees likely know how to access and use trade secrets, and because they have this easy access, they could easily obtain the information they want to take to a competitor. You may not have the ability to keep every bit of intellectual property under lock and key, but you could take steps to limit or completely wipe out a worker's access to proprietary information if he or she decides to leave the company.


Unfortunately, even though you want and need to trust your employees, an unscrupulous person could take steps to use your trade secrets against you. If this happens, you have legal options for seeking justice against the wrongdoer for damage done to your company.

About the Author

William J. Cook

William J. Cook represents clients in matters involving business litigation and commercial and employment disputes, securities litigation, business transactions and counseling, and insurance. Mr. Cook's peers have awarded him with the highest possible rating of AV-Preeminent* by Martindale-Hubbell, which speak...


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