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What can you do to protect your business's trade secrets?

As a Missouri small business owner, you may consider your intellectual property one of your most valuable assets, and chances are, you would be right to do so. If you have formulas, recipes, techniques or other elements of your business that set you apart from your competitors, you likely want to protect them to the fullest extent possible. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to help safeguard your valuable property and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

Per the U.S. Small Business Administration, your protection needs may involve tangible, paper trade secrets as well as ones stored electronically, but it is equally important to limit access to both. For paper trade secrets, make the effort to always store them carefully in a locked file cabinet, and make sure only those you want have access to it. You can also restrict online access for electronic trade secrets and intellectual property, but it may prove wise to take things a step further and make sure that all of your employees sign confidentiality agreements before officially signing on.

While your confidentiality agreement will likely contain language about not sharing your company's information with competitors or anyone else outside the company, it may also benefit you to include language about when, exactly, the agreement applies. For example, maybe you have concerns about one of your workers moving to a similar business after leaving yours, which is often the case, and then sharing your company's secrets with his or her new employer. To prevent this, you can stipulate in your confidentiality agreement that your intellectual property must stay confidential, both during a worker's time with your company, and after it ends.

This informational about protecting your company trade secrets is educational in nature and not a substitute for legal advice.

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