IP in business includes know-how, trade secrets, methodology, schemes, efficiency in staff deployment, company management, manufacturing, distribution, sales policies and any other facet of the business operations that generates wealth for the business and its stakeholders.
The secrets of the business are best served if the IP of the business is zealously guarded against misuse by those within the business in that the IP is only disclosed within the business on a need-to-know basis to contracted employees.
Likewise, secrets of a business should only be disclosed to outside, third parties under the veil of an equitable and enforceable non-disclosure agreement.
To do otherwise may prejudice the fortunes of the business and may even cause the loss of the business unless there was provision by way of insurance and/or reserve capital to take legal action in order to redress a situation.
It is an obvious fact of business life that small entities, viz. SMEs, do not have the resources, or time, to fully protect the assets of their businesses against commercial theft of their know-how, etc.
This may occur through the transfer of work force personnel and by competitors, who blatantly copy the business strategy and acquire a share of a valuable market for the products and/or services of the business.
It is recommended, therefore, that the terms and conditions of employment of staff always include a clause(s) relating to the confidentiality with which they must treat any and all aspects of the business and especially the know-how, etc. that they shall be party to while in the employment of the business together with the continuing obligations of confidentiality after their employment has terminated for whatever reason.
In relation to third parties, it should be the policy of the business that any visitor to the business premises must sign an undertaking that protects the confidential nature of anything that they see or that is disclosed to them in any other way during their presence on the business premises.
*John Grant is Senior Patent Attorney at Trevor Baylis Brands (TBB) plc. TBB has provided advice to thousands of individuals and companies on the best way to develop their business and protect their intellectual property. Building Enterprise (BE) Ltd is a new development from TBB offering a one-stop shop for innovation development, helping to take initial ideas through to a successful commercial outcome.*
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