Unlike other IP rights whose value and protection arise from legislation, trade secrets and know how can only be protected by secrecy.
Yo need to proactively and diligently protect your trade secrets and know how.
Below are some suggestions that you can consider implementing:
You should not make a disclosure of your trade secrets and know how to anyone without:
You should not make a disclosure of your trade secrets and know how to an employee without ensuring that there is a written employment agreement which requires your employee to:
Similaly you should not make a disclosure of your trade secrets and know how to a contractor that you engage without ensuring that there is a written contracting agreement which requires the contractor to:
You should consider implementing a “need to know” policy
Not every employee needs to know all your trade secrets and know how. Most employees only need to know those trade secrets and know how that are relevant to their specific employment position. You can therefore minimise the risk of employees disclosing or misusing your trade secrets and know how by ensuring that each employee is aware only of the specific trade secrets and know how that the employee needs to know to be able to do the job the employee has.
You can also have a similar need to know policy in relation to your contractors.
You should consider the security of your confidential information, trade secrets and know how
If there are physical copies, are they locked away and secure, and is their accessibility confined to the specific people who need access to them? If they are maintained electronically, can anyone in the organisation access them, or is access confined to only those staff whose duties require them to know the trade secrets or know how?
You should consider the visitors that come to your premises
Can they learn about your trade secrets and know how by observation, or by speaking with your employees? Should visitors sign a confidentiality agreement? Should their access to your premises be restricted? Should visitors be escorted? Should a register of visitors be maintained?