Do you have an idea that's been sitting around your company with easy accessibility. Do you know how to protect your idea from being stolen? Taking action to create your intellectual property (IP) strategy and protect your ideas from being stolen is an important aspect of running a successful business. You're playing risk if you have ideas sitting around in document form that's deemed a creative work, or perhaps a trade secret. When it comes to trade secrets being stolen, you're in for a rude awakening when it comes to how many new cases are occurring lately.
A new lawsuit popped up that claimed the company Process Control had trade secrets stolen from famous tech company Conair. The claim stated that two ex-Process Control employees were later hired at Conair. The employees had valuable Process Control trade secrets in their possession that were then passed on to Conair and subsequently developed into products. More on protecting against ex-employee theft in a recent blog featuring the case between Oculus and ZeniMax.
The above is a frequent problem when an idea is not initially protected. Many other cases are out there that are still being litigated, including a similar long-running case between Mattel and MGA Entertainment over trade secret theft related to the famous Bratz Dolls. So how do you avoid problems like this, especially if your idea is still in the idea-phase and not a tangible trade secret on a piece of paper?
Trade Secret Agreements
Frequently, heads of companies with valuable trade secrets end up requiring employees to sign trade secret agreements. By signing the agreement, the employee swears to uphold the secrets shared to them, or be sued if evidence gets out they stole the trade secret when moving to another company (of course, all trade secret agreements are different, but that's the gist). While some employees resist signing these, they aren't perfect because they're not always enforceable if they were unreasonable in their intentions. This includes not being able to enforce them beyond two years.
Obtaining a copyright is all about protecting ideas. This means that you might have an idea written down on a piece of paper for a future idea not fully created yet. Nevertheless, as the idea on paper is a creative work of expression, you can copyright that idea for protection. It could be an outline for a future novel, or even a blueprint for an invention.
If a former employee happens to have a copy of that idea and attempts to have it developed at a rival company or on their own, you can easily sue for copyright infringement.
Physical or Digital Protection
You don't want to have valuable ideas just sitting around, even if they're already protected with a copyright or with an agreement. Someone could still attempt to steal the idea despite your protections, hence bringing litigation that can become very expensive and lengthy. It's best to avoid litigation as much as you can because of the expense. That's why protecting an idea directly in a physical safe or through a digital vault is a smart choice of action.
Traklight offers an IP Vault where you can digitally protect things like trade secrets and other ideas. This service is also reliable thanks to our 24/7 monitoring to assure no online thieves or technical mishaps. In addition, we help educate you on the myriad ways to protect your business ideas.
For more ideas on how to protect your intellectual property, check out our blog on three high-five worth IP protection tips.
Take 5 minutes now to assess your risk with our free risk quiz. Succeed by taking control of your IP before any legal action for infringement becomes necessary.