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Intellectual Property Insights from Fishman Stewart PLLC
Newsletter – Volume 21, Issue 13

Employees are Switching Jobs. Protect Your Trade Secrets.

By Maxwell Goss

As the pandemic eases, workers are heading for the exits. One recent survey found that 41% of employees are considering switching jobs this year. Another survey found that employee resignations are already spiking, especially in the tech and healthcare sectors.

Businesses beware: Departing employees can pose a threat to your trade secrets. Trade secrets may include technical information (such as research data or software code) or commercial information (such as customer lists or new product plans). If your employees have access to sensitive matter, now is the time for your company to take a hard look at how it protects its information.

Trade secrets are easy to steal.

With alarming frequency, departing employees grab valuable digital assets on the way out the door. It takes just moments to upload data to a USB drive or forward files to a personal email account. Or one might misappropriate information the old-fashioned way and slip a few key papers into a briefcase.

Sometimes these things happen with little thought. Other times, they are quite intentional. Either way, it puts assets at risk. No business wants its hard-won secrets to end up in the hands of a competitor.

Take proactive steps to safeguard your information.

The good news is that there are measures every business can take to safeguard its trade secrets and confidential information. Just some of the possibilities are: 

•    Conducting a trade secret audit to identify key assets
•    Developing strong, up-to-date cybersecurity protocols
•    Limiting access to sensitive information to those with a need to use it
•    Implementing policies governing the use of personal devices and accounts
•    Requiring employees to sign non-disclosure and non-compete agreements
•    Conducting exit interviews with departing employees

These steps will help your business prevent the theft of information. Moreover, when it comes to trade secrets, courts help those who help themselves. If legal action becomes necessary, the court will require the company to show the steps it took to protect its information. A seasoned trade secret attorney can assist your company in implementing sensible measures to preserve and protect your trade secrets.

When the unthinkable happens, act quickly.

Trade secret misappropriation can wreak havoc on a business. If you have reason to believe an employee — or anyone else for that matter — has stolen valuable information, the clock is ticking. Damage happens fast, and evidence tends to evaporate quickly. A trade secret attorney can help your company coordinate an investigation and take swift action to protect its assets.

With employee departures on the rise, now is the time to make sure your company has secured its trade secrets and positioned itself to act in the event the unthinkable happens.

Introducing Patent Attorney Angela Bauer

Please join us in welcoming our new attorney, Angela V. Bauer. Angela is a registered patent attorney with a background in design engineering. Angela holds a mechanical engineering B.S. from Kettering University, a mechanical engineering M.S. from Oakland University, and a JD from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Prior to her transition into the legal world, Angela spent ten years working in the automotive industry as a design engineer. As an attorney, Angela practices in the areas of patent and trademark prosecution. Angela passionately works with inventors to protect their creations, and her background affords her a unique perspective of the practical, day-to-day, hands-on responsibilities and challenges of her clients.

Outside of work, Angela is an active outdoors person who loves camping, hiking, and biking. Among her many credentials, Angela is also a certified SCUBA diver.

We are excited to have Angela on our team and our clients can expect another strong practitioner to represent their best interests.