One of the most valuable assets a company can have is its intellectual property. Just as jewelry stores lock up their diamonds and gold, companies must secure and protect IP from competitors and ex-employees.
You can’t lock your IP in a safe, of course. It must often be secure and utilized at the same time.
Let’s look at several methods of proprietary information protection suggested by members of the Forbes Technology Council in a recent Forbes article online.
Use copyright, trademark and patent protections
Copyright protection is available for original works fixed in a tangible form, including software, paintings, literary works, photographs, live performances and movies.
Trademark laws protect certain names, symbols, words or devices used in connection with a good or service.
A patent gives an inventor the right to exclude others from making, selling or using their unique invention.
Das Vakamudi, Chief Technology Officer of the Family Health Centers of San Diego, wrote that “the best way to protect intellectual property is to keep it a secret.” He also advised that proprietary information should be shared with a small group of people and to make sure that each of them understands the information must be kept confidential. Also have them sign a nondisclosure agreement.
Have information controls in place
Put in place access controls and policies that include “very tight device controls” (referring to phones), says Jim Parkinson, Chief Experience Officer in charge of IT and engineering at North American Bancard Holdings, LLC. Parkinson adds, “Devices are everywhere and data leaks out of these devices, so you have to have very strong mobile device management products and procedures.”
Educate your staff
“IP exposure isn’t always intentional,” says Ron Cogburn, CEO of Exela Technologies. “Make sure that your employees know how to identify and properly handle sensitive information.”
Other Forbes Technology Council members stressed the importance of building a company infrastructure that incentivizes employee loyalty and is based on transparency and trust.