5 Ways to Stop Intellectual Property Theft
If you are in business then you have information in the form of intellectual property (“IP”) that you don’t want others to have. This information gives your business the edge. Yet IP theft is very common – and is valued at several hundred billion dollars a year for the US alone. The majority of the value in most businesses is intellectual property, so you need to prioritise its protection.
Here are 5 ways you can stop your intellectual property from being stolen.
1. Make protecting intellectual property part of your business culture
Staff and management may not know the importance of intellectual property. Given that most people are very busy in the workplace, intellectual property will not be properly protected unless it becomes part of your work culture. Staff can be an source of IP leakage. Staff and management should be educated about the importance of intellectual property and how to use confidential information. Ensure that staff keep information secret. Ensure all employees and contractors are contractually bound to maintain confidentiality and their inventions made during the course of employment belong to your business. Appoint an IP manager to grow and maintain an IP culture.
2. Identify your intellectual property
It is surprising how many companies don’t keep track of new intellectual property they create. Put systems in place to identify new intellectual property so that it can be properly protected using patents, trade secrets and computer security.
3. Protect your intellectual property
Protect inventions with patents and register your trade marks. Mark important information “confidential”. Keep physical controls on physical documents, and control user access to digital information.
4. Think like a criminal.
Have a look at your business processes and systems and identify weak links that may leak intellectual property. Criminals can be very creative, so you have to think like one. Once you have identified potential weak points you can act to secure them.
5. Use confidentiality agreements.
If one of your employees need to divulge information to someone outside of your business, ensure that a confidentiality agreement is in place. The information divulged then has some degree of legal protection, however it is preferable to limit access to confidential information and have patent protection.