Protection of business secrets
Effective protection of confidential information is crucial for the protection of all entities carrying out economic activity.
Protection of business secrets is in fact protection of future profits. Therefore, prevention of possible violations should be one of the most important issues to any entrepreneur.
Effects of the lack of protection of business secrets
Lack of measures ensuring effective protection of business secrets results in irreversible impossibility of seeking protection of confidential information in court proceedings, irrespective of the value of disclosed information.
Disclosure of confidential information to competitors may result in loss of contractors, technological advantage and in extreme cases may lead to the unprofitability of the company.
The law as it currently stands allows to protect virtually every information that has an economic value. The typical examples are as follows:
- lists of contractors (lists of both buyers and suppliers);
- list of employees and their remuneration;
- technological and project documentation;
- technological documentation of manufactured products;
- marketing strategy;
- business development plan;
- developed projects;
- technological and project documentation of prototypes;
- technological and marketing know-how;
- draft of contracts;
- prepared market analyzes.
Economic life abounds in various behaviours aimed at the unlawful acquisition or use of business secrets such as:
- takeover of contractors, in particular buyers, by a former employee or co-worker;
- transfer of confidential information by an employee to a third party;
- disclosure of confidential information by a contractor;
- takeover of former employees by a competitor to obtain entrepreneur’s know-how;
- sale of confidential information to competitors;
- simultaneous work for a competitor with a use of entrepreneur’s know-how;
- intentional negligence of employee’s or contractual obligations as to the protection of business secrets;
- theft of confidential information through computer system f. ex. as a result of hacker attack;
- starting a competitive activity by a former employee using the entrepreneur’s know-how;
- disclosure of recipes, patterns, technological or project documentation by an employee.
The following mistakes and omissions, which usually will result in the loss of ability to protect business secrets, are the most common in practice:
- lack of confidentiality clauses in contracts with employees and contractors or conclusion of general or unclear clauses;
- lack of relevant regulations and procedures in the area of protection of business secrets;
- marking information as ‘confidential’ what is only a symbolic protection;
- lack of passwords on computers and computer systems or using passwords that are obvious or known by all employees;
- lack of training of employees in the area of protection of business secrets;
- storing documents covering business secrets in publicly available places;
- no monitoring of employees’ activities while they work with documents covering business secrets.
Secure Business Program
As part of the Secure Business Program, RGW offers legal audit service in the area of protection of business secrets, in particular by assessment of the effectiveness of previously used protection and then presentation of comprehensive legal opinion in this respect.
The analysis covers not only the sources of potential risks and their potential consequences but also recommendations as to the implementation of preventive legal or factual measures aimed at protection of business secrets tailored to Client’s needs.
The next step of providing legal assistance under the Secure Business program is the implementation of recommendations presented in the legal opinion.
Implementation of preventive measures may take place through:
- preparation of appropriate annexes to contracts with employees and contractors that introduce confidentiality clause;
- preparation of appropriate modifications of the Work Regulations and other applicable labour law acts;
- conduct of training for employees in the field of protection of business secrets;
- presentation of proposal of implementation of technical solutions that protect the confidentiality of data,
- development of detailed internal procedures on the protection of business secrets and the way of dealing with confidential information.