Protecting the information and relationships that give your business a competitive edge requires more than just reliance on the Illinois Trade Secret Act. Some of the steps you should consider include:
- Analyze Your Need. Determine what is protectable and how to protect it. Written documents with employees and others are best, but over-reaching can cause problems.
- Pre-hiring. Screen candidates for obligations to prior employers and obtain signed representations they have none and did not misappropriate protected information. Give notice that employment and confidentiality agreements will be required.
- Hiring. Require written confidentiality and noncompetition agreements, require acknowledgements of your protection policies and procedures, use checklists and forms, and secure original documents from loss.
- Policies and Procedures. Implement, publish and have employees acknowledge policies and procedures that identify and protect your information, including handbooks or policy statements, and periodically review and document their review with employees.
- Protection. Actively prevent the misuse of protectable information using passwords, locked files, locked rooms, off-site storage, limited access, need to know disclosures, log-in books, company-owned equipment and other reasonable steps necessary to prevent misappropriation.
- Termination. Interview departing employees about possible competition and to reinforce their obligations, and document information obtained with written acknowledgements. Send appropriate letters to former employees and their new employers regarding your rights and their obligations.
- Enforcement. Collect documents and information for enforcement if necessary, and establish a timeline and plan to proceed. Analyze risks, rewards and costs of enforcement.
Brooks, Tarulis & Tibble, LLC has substantial experience in preparing documentation, policies and procedures to protect your business and prevent unfair competition. If we can assist you in this regard, please contact me.
Douglas C. Tibble