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You can help ensure employees protect your intellectual property

As a business owner, you have to trust your employees with your intellectual property (IP) for them to do their jobs. Nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) can outline what information the people who work for you are required to keep confidential. They can also help you take legal action against anyone who fails to protect your IP.

However, business owners can further discourage employees who might be tempted by money or other incentives to disclose or use their IP. Sometimes, it's as easy as making them feel appreciated and respected.

This can begin in the way the NDA is drafted. While you have information that needs to be protected, employees also need to be able to take credit for their work and show their experience as they move on in their careers. Their NDAs should clearly show what contributions they can showcase, such as what products they've helped develop.

By showing respect for your employees' contributions, you encourage them to respect the company and their colleagues. This can help discourage people who might be tempted to leak or disclose information, either while they're still working for you or later.

High turnover in a company can pose a risk to IP. That's why business owners should work to retain their employees who are instrumental in developing their products.

Of course, you're going to lose employees. Sometimes, the decision to leave is theirs. Other times, it's yours. When an employee is on their way out the door, that's when your IP may be most at risk. That's why it's crucial to offboard them as quickly as possible from all systems containing your IP. This can help prevent someone from sharing information with a new employer while they're still working for you.

There are numerous companies and systems that can help you protect your IP from theft by employees, contractors, clients and others. It's also essential to ensure that anyone who is going to have access not only signs but fully understands their NDA before any information is shared with them. An attorney experienced in drafting and enforcing NDAs can provide valuable guidance.

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David M. Duree and Associates, P.C.
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