By: Kennington Groff
How to Ensure Your IP Remains Safe
Offices, cubicles and community spaces are shifting to dining rooms, kitchen tables, bedrooms and home offices. Due to the severity of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic many of our clients have employees working, for the first time, from home, which has our Clients asking how to ensure their intellectual property remains safe.
Typically, employees must possess at least some of their employer’s intellectual property in order to perform their job duties, for example, pricing lists, vendor information and access to your CRM. This intellectual property might also include other trade secrets (formulas, R&D materials, financial information) and material protected by copyright, such as software, source code, manuals and publications.
Limit Intellectual Property Theft or Loss
Here is what you should do to limit the risk of the theft or unintentional loss of your intellectual property.
1. Partition your digital information – for example, if a particular employee does not need access to your CRM, set permissions so he/she cannot access it.
2. If you don’t already have one, employees should sign non-disclosure agreements.
3. Upon return to normalcy, employees should sign a “Return to Work Policy” that they do not have any non-disclosed copies of any of the company’s information.
4. Consider adopting a “work from home policy” which would include measures for protecting the company information.
5. Instruct employees to use a secure connection/ VPN, use strong passwords and have phone calls discussing sensitive information in private.
6. Remind employees in writing that your company’s intellectual property belongs exclusively to your company, no different than the company’s furniture, computers and other equipment.
7. Remind employees in writing that they may not share any company information with anyone outside the company without your permission.
8. Make sure to provide your employees with instructions and guidance in order to preserve and safeguard sensitive information such as maintaining a secure connection/ VPN, reinforcing strong passwords and having phone calls discussing sensitive information and topics in private if possible.