Protecting Trade Secrets

"Apple's DNA is innovation, and the protection of our trade secrets is crucial to our success."

                                                                -- Apple Computer, Inc.

A  remarkable 70 percent of the market value of a typical U.S. company resides in its intellectual property assets, such as trade secrets. However, most companies spend about 80 percent of their security budgets protecting the other 30 percent of their assets, such as physical property. Something is clearly out of whack.

With new cases of Economic Espionage occurring all the time, companies need to become aggressively proactive in protecting their trade secrets. In order to protect trade secrets, companies must, at a minimum:

    Identify, value and quantify their trade secrets.
    Take reasonable steps to protect trade secrets.
    Educate employees about how to protect trade secrets.

Not only does this make good business sense, these requirements are mandated by law (the Economic Espionage Age of 1996) in order to prove claims in court. But these steps must be taken before the fact -- before the theft of a trade secret has occurred. We can help companies get a firm handle on what needs to be done to protect their trade secrets from theft, as well as meeting the legal requirements of the new Act. The Act has raised the stakes significantly and put more of the onus on companies to protect their trade secrets. It tasks each business with the responsibility to take effective steps to demonstrate that it established reasonable safeguards to protect its trade secrets; prevented inadvertent misappropriation of its trade secrets; and took reasonable measures to prevent intentional theft. 

A company's failure to comply not only makes it an easier target for economic espionage, it also makes it harder to prove in court -- and in the media wars that often ensue -- that a company is entitled to trade secret protection. 

Among the things all companies should have in place, and which Lexicon Communications can assist in establishing, are:

    A Trade Secrets Compliance Program.
    A Trade Secrets Audit.
    A Trade Secrets Classification and Risk Assessment.
    A Trade Secrets Valuation Report.
    A Trade Secrets Security Program.