Guidelines for Protecting Proprietary Information

Intellectual property is a crucial part of many businesses.  Protecting this proprietary information is essential.  Proprietary information includes trade secrets, client lists, development plans, marketing plans, and other confidential information.  Although non-competition agreements are almost always void in North Dakota, that is not the only way to protect your business’ proprietary information.  Although there are limits to preventing former employees from sharing proprietary information, there are many ways to limit the sharing of information.

There are many methods to protect your proprietary information, including confidentiality agreements to prevent the disclosure of proprietary information when working with employees, outside businesses, or consultants.

In terms of good business practices to protect propriety information, employers can focus on the importance of confidentiality and taking preventative measures.  Although stressing the importance of confidentiality may not provide an employer a legal remedy if that information is shared, it can be helpful in preventing the spread of information.

Businesses should appropriately label proprietary information as such and carefully control the copies of sensitive information.  From the time proprietary documents are created to when they are destroyed, it is helpful to label and protect that information.  Electronic copies of documents and emails containing proprietary information should also be labeled as such and carefully distributed only to those needing to know the information.

Also, businesses should carefully review security measures regularly for any physical locations.  Proprietary information stored in physical forms should be secured in an appropriate manner, whether through locked file cabinets or round-the-clock security guards.  Similarly, computer security and electronically-stored information should be carefully regulated and reviewed.

For employees leaving the business, an exit interview should serve as another reminder regarding the importance of confidentiality.  The exit interview also provides an opportunity to ensure the employee has returned all keys, computers, documents, and other forms of accessing proprietary information.

The above provides a brief outline of methods for protecting confidential information.  An attorney like Stephen Welle can help you protect your business’ proprietary information. Contact O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss in Fargo, North Dakota or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 to discuss your case.

 

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