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Do your employees need to know company secrets?

When one of your employees takes a new job, do you worry about what they might be taking with them? We’re not talking about office supplies or stolen goods, though that happens sometimes, too. We’re talking instead about the knowledge that they take to their next job.

After all, that employee may have had access to some of your key trade secrets. This intellectual property could include things like:

  • Formulas and solutions
  • Manufacturing know-how
  • Details of your business plan
  • The costs of parts, materials, goods and services
  • A list of your customers

As you can imagine, the sharing of this information could be quite detrimental. What if a competitor has a similar product at a lower price point, but they just do not know how to market it? Then, your former employee walks in your competitor’s door with a list of clients and customers and starts wooing your client base over to their company.

Now, you do have deterrents, like making employees sign non-disclosure or non-compete agreements. But you may still be worried. One important thing to ask yourself is whether employees even need to have all this proprietary information in the first place. Some companies protect their sensitive data by splitting it up — for instance, only allowing employees to know a very specific part of a recipe or solution that, on its own, is useless. If you can find ways to limit the information to which they have access, you should have fewer worries about IP theft.

Even so, this is a real issue that many company owners face, and you must know what legal steps you can take to protect yourself in these situations.