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Protecting your trade secrets from unscrupulous employees

It takes extreme levels of dedication to take an idea and turn it into a successful business. Many times, it is your own unique approach to a business concept that results and success. Whether you have your own recipe for barbecue sauce or a client list that helps your company achieve financial stability, the work you did and the information you've acquired for your business is critical to its ongoing success.

When you hire staff, you trust them with the future and reputation of your business. You expect them to work in your company's best interests and help you grow the business. Unfortunately, some people are more interested in what they can get from their business than what they can do for it.

People may intentionally come to work for your company in order to learn more about your processes or even with the explicit intention of accessing your client list. Although you shouldn't treat everyone with suspicion, you should still take steps to legally protect yourself from this kind of employee behavior.

All new staff should sign non-compete agreements

You need to have a comprehensive employee contract that specifically discusses your business model and establishes protections for your trade secrets. Part of that contract should discuss your expectations for staff and their role within the business. You should also create a non-compete agreement that is specific to the position and region.

A non-compete agreement prevents an employee from working in the same industry for a specific amount of time after leaving your company. That effectively protects you from attempts at corporate espionage where someone steals your recipe or client list in order to profit when they build their own company in the future or go to work for a competitor.

Password protect everything, and limit who can access what

Most of your staff won't need access to a comprehensive list of clients. Even your sales department should only have access to the information of the clients they work with directly. By limiting what information your staff can access and partitioning it carefully, you can prevent any one staff member from accessing a dangerous amount of your company's private information.

Take cybersecurity seriously. Many acts of property theft and espionage occur in-house, committed by existing staff members. Carefully protected data will benefit your business more than client information and secret processes that anyone on staff can access easily.

Take action if necessary to defend your business

When someone steals information from your company and wants to use it for personal gain, you have every right to hold them accountable for that unethical behavior. Speaking with an attorney who specializes in employment, business or contract law in New Jersey can help you push back against the staff member behaving in an unethical manner.

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