FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-04-26
In today’s competitive economic climate, protecting trade secrets (better known as proprietary information) is an essential part of successful business protocol. Proprietary information can be the lifeblood a business, but theft or misuse of trade secrets can ruin a thriving business. Because of this, it is important for business owners to properly identify such information and keep it out of the wrong hands.
What is proprietary information?
In order to be deemed “proprietary”, a business owner must derive economic value from keeping the information confidential. Utah law does not necessarily limit what can be considered proprietary. As such, financial projections, client lists, technical specifications, manufacturing processes, or any other information that makes a product (or process) unique based on its secrecy can be considered proprietary.
How can proprietary information be protected?
Business owners also have to take certain steps to ensure the integrity of their secrets.
First, a thorough risk assessment is helpful in identifying what must be protected and where potential leaks may exist. Understanding where vulnerabilities lie are essential in devising a protection plan.
Second, legally binding documents can protect proprietary information. These include non-disclosure agreements, non-compete agreements and proprietary acknowledgment disclosures. Besides limiting the number of people who know the trade secrets, these documents create clear rules for how they may be disclosed.
Further, companies may also use a variety of data security programs to protect information on company laptops, tablets and smart phones. This may include passwords that limit access to internal systems, firewalls that protect against external threats and programs that can protect (or wipe clean) sensitive information. This is especially important if a company device becomes lost or stolen.
Security protocols, whether through agreements or programs must be updated regularly, and employees who have access to such information must be reminded of their legal duty to maintain the company’s trade secrets.
Ultimately, understanding how Utah law protects trade secrets is essential. If you have questions about how to protect proprietary information, an experienced business lawyer can help.