Do your employees have the basic training they need to understand why and how to protect your organization’s trade secret information?
Trade secrets are intellectual property and confidential information that’s so important to a business’s ability to compete with the rest of the industry that companies place great importance on keeping that information secret.
In fact, trade secrets are even protected under U.S. federal law.
Importance of Trade Secrets and the Need for Secrecy
The U.S. Trade Secrets Act (USTA) defines a “trade secret” as “information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process that:
- Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and
- Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.”
This definition highlights both the importance of trade secrets to an organization’s business and the need to keep such information under wraps.
Balancing Act: Sharing vs. Protecting Trade Secrets
Keeping trade secrets private can be a tricky balancing act. On the one hand, trade secret information is very powerful and useful and can be the key to an organization’s success. In this sense, a business should want as many people as possible to have access to and be able to leverage that valuable information.
On the other hand, trade secret information is very sensitive, and the more broadly information is shared, the greater the risk it will get into the wrong hands, either through carelessness or intentional wrongdoing.
Employee training is a key tool in helping employees understand the why and how of trade secret protection. In a follow-up post, we’ll discuss some strategies and basic steps for employee training on trade secrets.
Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.
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