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How can I protect my business’s trade secrets?

As a small business owner in Houston, you know just how valuable trade secrets can be. That’s why it’s so important to protect your intellectual property from competitors seeking to gain an edge over your commercial enterprise. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to keep your trade secrets out of the wrong hands.

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, having a comprehensive understanding of trade secret protection laws can clear away some of the confusion surrounding this area. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act stipulates that disclosing intellectual property integral to a company’s operation is against the law, and many states recognize this legislation (including Texas). However, trade secret protections do differ from protection of things like trademarks or patents, which entail their own registration process.

Although it should go without saying, it’s also essential for you to identify in clear terms what your trade secrets actually are. In general, anything in your operation that has value commercially and would benefit another business’s success may be considered a trade secret. This can include many different things, from a work process or methodology to a formula. For example, a listing of your customers could be considered a trade secret, as could the design of a device that plays a vital role in your work process.

Once you’ve pinpointed your business’s trade secrets, make sure the rest of your staff is well-versed in the proper methods of protection. Some business owners opt to have employees sign nondisclosure agreements to maintain confidentiality of workplace information. These types of agreements typically offer protection while a worker is employed by an enterprise, as well as the period after an employee leaves the company.

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