Confidential information and trade secrets – are you protected?

All businesses value their know-how, customer details, products, inventions, and business data.

Most businesses regard this information as confidential or secret.

But is it? What can be protected as a trade secret or confidential information?

Broadly speaking confidential information and trade secrets comprise information that is not common knowledge. It is something that has been brought into existence by the application of skill and ingenuity. Examples would include client information, manufacturing methods and processes, ideas for new products etc.

Protecting your business’s trade secrets and confidential information has become increasingly important because of developments in the means of storing, processing and retrieving enormous quantities of data and information.

The following steps should be taken to protect your trade secrets and confidential information:

1. Individual confidentiality agreements should be signed or alternatively incorporated in employment contracts.

2. Make sure that only people within your business know the information.

3. Limit the number of people who have knowledge of the information within your business.

4. Take measures to guard the secrecy of the information.

5. Consider whether in addition to confidentiality agreements you should have a restraint agreement.

A confidentiality agreement is a cost effective way to protect your trade secrets and confidential information. Everyone who has access to sensitive information should sign a confidentiality agreement.