Four Ways to Retain Intellectual Property Rights When Employees Leave

Four Ways to Retain Intellectual Property Rights When Employees Leave

May 27, 2019

For many companies, their intellectual property is the crux of their success. Whether your business relies on a particular formula, process, design, or customer list, it is critical that you protect your intellectual property when an employee chooses to leave your company. The following will detail four ways that you can retain and protect your intellectual property when an employee leaves, and speaking with an attorney about protecting your intellectual property rights can give you a wider scope of legal options to protect your business.

File for Intellectual Property Protections

When your company creates new intellectual property, be sure to file for the proper intellectual property protections. This can include copyrights, trademarks, or patents on the property you create, and your company needs to regularly enforce protections on your intellectual property, as well. This can prevent an employee who leaves your company from taking the intellectual property and claiming it as his or her own. If the information is protected by a patent, trademark, or copyright, you can file a lawsuit against your former employee to protect what is yours.

Non-Disclosure Agreements

Utilize non-disclosure agreements when you hire employees who will be working with important intellectual property. Non-disclosure agreements prevent an employee from disclosing any confidential information, such as intellectual property, and generally prevents new employers from seeking out information from your previous employees. Non-disclosure agreements are also typically easier to enforce than a non-compete agreement, which prohibits employees from working in a particular field or geographic area for a certain amount of time after leaving the business.

Business Best Practices

Installing best practices in your business can also protect your intellectual property when an employee chooses to leave. This includes labeling and prioritizing your intellectual property and educating your employees on a regular basis about avoiding and preventing intellectual property leaks. This includes training on preventing intentional loss of intellectual property as well as how it may accidentally or negligently be taken when an employee leaves. If an employee does attempt to take intellectual property, best practices must also include regularly enforcing your rights to the property by filing a claim against the former employee to get back the intellectual property that was taken.

Utilize Technology to Protect Intellectual Property

In addition to legal documents and in-person training, your company can also utilize technology to protect the intellectual property of your business. There are a number of software tools available that can track documents and other intellectual property databases for access and usage. Known as data loss prevention (DLP) tools, the vast majority of security suites for your business come with some level of protection. Encrypting intellectual property so that only certain employees can gain access is another common form of technology protection for businesses to prevent employees from taking that knowledge when they leave.

Talk to an Attorney Today

There are many other ways that your business can protect its intellectual property when an employee leaves. Contact Nusinov Smith Law Firm to learn more.