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Intellectual property protection requires more than strong NDAs

As a business owner, you probably rely on nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) to help protect your intellectual property (IP). Well-drafted, strictly enforced NDAs are certainly a good first step.

However, technology has created many more ways in which IP can get into the wrong hands. People who aren't bound by NDAs can access your company's proprietary data without setting foot anywhere near your offices or computers. Common sense precautions are still important, however.

The Forbes Technology Council, which is comprised of chief information officers (CIOs), chief technology officers (CTOs) and other executives have a multitude of suggestions for effective ways to protect your IP. Following are a few:

Restrict data access: Most employees don't need access to an entire product to work on it. Limit employees' access to only what they need to do their job.

Use digital security tools: These might include facial or fingerprint scanning and strongly encrypted firewalls.

Make sure your vendors can be held liable for IP infringement: Many companies use vendors from all over the world. Make sure your vendors who have signed NDAs and have access to IP information operate in a country (such as Canada or Mexico) where they can be held liable if they violate the NDA.

Give your employees a sense of ownership: People are more likely to protect confidential data and information if they feel like it's theirs to protect. Make sure that the people you trust with your IP understand the value of it, why it needs to be protected and their role in keeping it confidential.

Of course, NDAs are still crucial. It's essential to put them in place early in the creation of your product or process. That means having subcontractors, temporary workers and anyone involved in the creation of your IP sign an NDA.

Enforcement of your NDAs is also vital. If you don't take action against those who violate your NDAs, they're basically worthless.

An experienced IP attorney can work with you to develop the NDAs you need to protect your valuable IP and help you take legal action as required against those who violate them.

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