BCS: Helping business clients with opportunities and through crises since 1995

Is your employee committing theft of trade secrets?

To say that trade secrets are important is an understatement. These confidential formulas, processes or information give significant advantage to companies in their ever-evolving market. When an employee commits theft of a trade secrets, it is often a real threat.

In Georgia, trade secrets theft occurs when a person takes, uses and discloses confidential information through deceitful means. For companies, this could mean loss of competitive advantage, financial losses and even loss of customers. So, identifying warning signs that an employee may be considering such a betrayal is crucial.

Signs of  potential theft

While not always indicative of wrongdoings, the following behaviors should raise concerns if done frequently and suspiciously:

  • Is there an increased download activity of documents, especially confidential or sensitive ones?
  • Are there unexplained calls or messages to the employee, particularly from competitors?
  • Are there changes in the employee’s work habits? For instance, they start working unusual hours like late nights on weekends.
  • Does the employee evade questions about their professional activities and plans?

Is it time to take action?

Proving theft of trade secrets can become a complex process. If convicted, the employee may face one to five years prison time and pay a fine up to $50,000. If you suspect an employee is stealing trade secrets, act swiftly and connect with an experienced lawyer to discuss the best legal action.

Preventing theft is ideal

There are proactive steps that companies can take to protect their trade secrets. For example, they can develop a written policy that clearly defines what trade secrets are, implement non-disclosure agreements and other restrictive covenants, restrict access on a “need-to-know” basis and even conduct regular training about confidentiality. Preventing the theft of trade secrets can be a lengthy process, but it is worth it down the line.