As many California business owners may know, a company is often identified by its trademark. In addition, a business has proprietary information that it may not wish to share with others if it is associated with the company's success, like a secret formula. Protecting trademarks or trade secrets is an important aspect that may be overlooked.
Trademarks may be registered or not. Once a trademark is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the business may use it nationwide. Registering the trademark makes it easier to contest another company's use of the same or similar trademark. Not registering a trademark may lend itself to problems concerning trademark infringement in the future.
Trade secrets require effort if they are to be protected under the law. Taking steps to safeguard trade secrets makes it possible to place a suit against another company or individual if they are stolen. Restricting full access to company information by employees is one way to protect information. Another method requires employees to sign a confidentiality agreement acknowledging that the information is private, further asking them to revisit it each year and reconfirm the details. Simple steps are also useful. Password protect mechanisms should be strongly coded and changed routinely.
Sometimes secrets are divulged when companies seek to do business with one another. In this case, it may be beneficial to ask the other company to sign a confidentiality agreement that clearly states the information is provided for the singular purpose of doing business.
Protecting a business's name and trade secrets is an important task. Structuring confidentiality or disclosure agreements may benefit from legal advice. An attorney might assist in drafting such agreements. In addition, the attorney may help research existing trademarks or help register a new one.
Source: Inc.com, "How to Protect Your Trade Secrets", December 29, 2014