What distinguishes you from other commercial rivals competing for business across the Chicago metro area? Sustained business tenure and profitability for any Chicagoland enterprise owes to a combination of interrelated factors.
If you are successful, you undoubtedly know the local markets. You have a strong and loyal customer base and know how to work well with parties like suppliers, vendors, finance principals, local officials, tax authorities and additional parties. Your company’s routine interactions with employees are essentially positive and productive. You proactively address and respond to regulatory issues. You are future-focused when evaluating business trends and opportunities.
And you take pains to safeguard your enterprise’s confidential data from misuse and misappropriation, knowing the flat importance of your closely held proprietary information.
That is perhaps an obvious point, and one that is prominently noted in one overview addressing intellectual property matters – “protecting trade secrets and confidential information is critical to getting and keeping the competitive advantage that sets your business apart.”
What exactly is a business trade secret?
It could be a shielded recipe that makes one company’s food or beverage item more profitable than a competitor’s offering. It might be a developed business plan or a customer list. Perhaps it is a manufacturing system, or even something like the specialized layout of a processing facility.
In short, trade secrets can cover a lot of ground, as noted in an instructive article spotlighting companies’ valued proprietary assets. That source underscores that a trade secret can broadly be “a piece of information that has independent economic value by not being generally known and can reasonably be maintained a secret.”
Securing legal protections for company trade secrets
A legal dispute centered on an alleged trade secret often ends up in a courtroom, where it routinely becomes quickly evident whether a company seeking protection against misuse/misappropriation has taken steps to identify and safeguard confidential data. Courts want assurance on that point, and will look at a company’s policies and procedures for evidence like the following:
- Advance/timely identification of assets deemed secret
- Evidence established a company’s intent to safeguard data that is confirmed by prominent labeling and systematic controls over access
- Close monitoring of where trade secrets reside
- Unflagging security protocols and requirements concerning computers
- Tight controls over third-party access
- Execution of relevant agreements with employees working with trade secrets (e.g., non-compete and non-disclosure contracts)
- Establishment of rigorous employee training programs, along with well-drafted and comprehensive policies
Trade secrets are critically important for any company, with breaches having the potential to wreak starkly adverse consequences. Proven intellectual property legal counsel can help guard against any such possibility.
A full evaluation of all relevant facts and circumstances must be performed to determine the best course of action in each situation. The attorneys at Tomlinson & Shapiro regularly counsel clients on these matters and are ready to assist your company. Please contact us by calling (312) 715-8770 or by filling out the information here to schedule a consultation.