IP, Patents for Start-ups and Entrepreneurs IV – Trade Secrets and Confidential Information

Confidential Information is any information that has business or economic value because it is not known to others, and for which, appropriate measures are taken to protect secrecy. It can be any sort of information that fits into the said requirements. Business information, financial information, technical information, scientific information, plans, methods, client lists, designs, and any other such information that has economic value is protectable as confidential information, or trade secret.

Protection of trade secrets and confidential information of a start-up company is very important but is generally neglected. More often than not, entrepreneurs take decisions or make disclosures based on good faith and trust without any legal measures, which may result in loss of trade secrets, and the business advantage offered by them. The following measures have to be taken by a start-up company to protect trade secrets and confidential information and gain business advantage:

  • Agreements must be signed with co-founders and employees with stringent confidentiality clauses;
  • Disclosure of any confidential information to any person must be made only under non-disclosure agreement;
  • Appropriate physical and information security measures such as restricted access, encryption and so on must be taken to protect secrecy; and
  • Confidentiality notices must be incorporated on all confidential documents and materials. The notice must indicate the confidential nature of information, purpose of disclosure and limitations of use.

The said measures jointly and independently will protect a start-up’s confidential information and trade secrets. They can, and will go a long way in ensuring that an entrepreneur’s business ideas and plans are not misappropriated or misused by third parties. Furthermore, though intellectual property  does not afford strong protection to generic business ideas, proper documentation of business interactions, meetings and transactions can go a long way in helping a start-up prove breach of confidence and trust and thereby protect business ideas/plans.

Confidentiality Notice Sample:

All information in this document is confidential and cannot be used for any purpose without prior written authorization of BananaIP.

Sample Email Disclaimer:

The information in this e-mail is confidential, and is intended solely for the addressee or addressees. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete the mail and kindly notify the sender of misdelivery. Any unauthorised use or disclosure of the contents of the mail is not permitted and may be unlawful.