Protect proprietary information with these tools


Photo Cred: Toa Heftiba

The success or failure of a company depends on its ability to be competitive in the marketplace. The strategies, products and/or services that give a company its competitive edge are therefore crucial, and employers would be wise to protect them.

You can protect your competitive edge by using one or more of the following tools:

Restrictive Covenants

Depending on your type of business and the access your employees will have to confidential and proprietary information, restrictive covenants (e.g., non-compete and non-solicitation agreements) can be an advisable way to limit an Minnesota employee’s ability to work for one of your competitors in the future, or to take your employees or clients with them when they go. Because restrictive covenants are a restraint on trade and generally disfavored by the Minnesota courts, they must carry a reasonable time and geographic limit so as to be narrowly tailored to protect a legitimate business interest.

Confidentiality agreements

If you have information that warrants protection, you can have your employees sign confidentiality agreements. These agreements identify the protected information and prevent employees from disclosing the information to third-parties. This information might include client lists, pricing lists, marketing strategies, budgets, and private personal data.

Employee handbooks

A clear and comprehensive handbook could include training on how to prevent the release of proprietary data, direction on responsibilities regarding trade secrets, and details on access restrictions. Having this information documented and shared with employees minimizes any confusion or ambiguity that might contribute to improper sharing.

One or all of these measures can be useful in protecting your company as well as its confidential, sensitive information. However, it is vital for employers to use them appropriately and in accordance with the law. Failure to do this can lead to enforceability issues and leave the information in question vulnerable to release. In order to review these and other options of protecting proprietary, confidential information, you can discuss your needs with an experienced employment law attorney.