It isn’t every day that the activity of your business catches the attention of the White House. In February 2013, the Executive Office issued its Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets, the result of the collaboration of different departments to develop a strategy to protect the innovation that drives the American economy. Trade secret theft is bad for businesses, and it is bad for the United States, with results that could be detrimental to our economy and American jobs. Efforts to steal American trade secrets are on the rise, but your corporation can act to protect itself.
The Administration proposed voluntary “best practices” for private industry to implement to protect its trade secrets, which are geared toward identifying the threat to targeted technologies and examining corporate procedures in light of the threat and potential impact. Businesses are responsible for making sure they have information and reporting systems and for monitoring those systems to avoid illegal conduct by the businesses employees as well as to protect against outside threats. The following are some of the steps to take in developing company procedures:
- Determine the specific information to be regarded as a trade secret.
- Take reasonable measures to protect the secrecy of the information.
- Identify potential risks and threats to identified trade secrets.
- Take additional measures to protect trade secret information where appropriate.
- Examine internal operations and policies to determine whether current approaches are mitigating the risks and factors associated with trade secret misappropriation, considering the following areas:
- research and development compartmentalization
- information security policies,
- physical security policies, and
- human resource policies.