You would never hand over your work laptop to a competitor. You wouldn’t share work files or give someone access to the company’s financial records. The company’s physical property must be protected, and you understand the steps required to do that. But what about the company’s intellectual property? Are you keeping that safe and secure?
Protecting corporate intellectual property is often where even well-intentioned employees make mistakes, by sharing nonpublic and confidential information about work—like new client signings, upcoming deals, and personal customer data—with family, friends, and even potential competitors. While the intent for sharing information is usually to be helpful, these actions can land the company and the sharer, in potentially hot water.
Four things you can do to protect corporate intellectual property.
1. Don’t Share Nonpublic Information. It starts innocently enough: You’re so excited that you can’t keep the news to yourself any longer—your company is in the final stages of acquiring one of its biggest competitors! Your friends are excited for you (even the one who works for a rival company in the area). In your excitement you’ve:
- Broken several NDAs
- Created a conflict of interest with a rival
- Risked insider trading if a friend acts on the news
- Jeopardized the deal
2. Respect Compliance Standards & Client Agreements. You need to understand the rules and regulations you’re bound by to protect the company. Depending on the type of work, policies exist to govern compliance and intellectual property, as well as to protect against insider trading, conflicts of interest, and privacy breaches. When followed, these policies protect not only the company and our clients, but you, as well.
3. Respect Compliance Standards & Client Agreements. Never share pricing and financial data, customer names and addresses, and information about other companies. Sharing this can lead to:
- Loss of revenue and marketing share
- Loss of reputation, clients, and partners
- Loss of competitive advantage
- Criminal and civil liabilities, for the employee and the company.
4. Report Potential Incidents.
Privileged information is the backbone of an organization, and you play a critical role in protecting it. If you witness an incident, act on it immediately and report it to a supervisor.
Always protect company and client information. Be careful not to share nonpublic information, respect all company procedures and policies, and report incidents. Loose lips sink ships, and cause corporate data leaks.