U.S. businesses lose billions of dollars each year to trade secret theft according to recent government reports. Since the numbers have continued to increase over time it begs the question, “Why aren’t more businesses taking the necessary measures to protect themselves?” Many maintain a belief that it won’t happen to them or they avoid/delay investing in an IP protection program believing it’s too complex or it could impede existing business processes. However, starting a program can be quick and uncomplicated, but it does require laser-like focus from senior leadership.
Often, senior leaders do not recognize the threats until after the harm has occurred. When your business information is stolen, you never see it disappear. If you walked outside in the morning and your car was gone, then it’s clear a theft has occurred. However, it is not the same when someone takes your critical business information. Your company’s information doesn’t have to be removed to be taken, it is merely copied from the place(s) it’s stored. Those with access to this information are your employees, and unfortunately this is where the majority of theft occurs. You trust your employees will protect your interests during their employment and after, which is consistent with the law. However, the reality is more than 60% of exiting employees take company data as they’re departing, according to a 2020 study. In fact, we have actually seen numbers closer to 70% in cases we’ve investigated.
Furthermore, key employees and trusted insiders who may be considering other employment are often the most egregious offenders. When they steal business data, they know the value of your confidential information, such as pricing lists, customer information, product designs, process improvements, and your collective business know-how. Knowing the value is part of the equation, but a trusted insider usually knows exactly where to monetize your stolen business information. Your competition armed with YOUR information can start to erode your market share or impact the viability of your business.
In our next post we will outline first steps to implementing an IP Protection program.