May 22, 2023
The concept of “Intellectual Property” is widely thrown around in today’s digital world. Yet, far too few businesses take the time to understand, identify, and protect the intellectual property they create as part of their operations.
The Concept of IP
One of the hallmarks of the rule of law in modern society is the active and full protection of intellectual property. As defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization, “Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce.”
In general, businesses pursue protection in four aspects of IP:
- Trade Secrets
As the role of these assets has grown, the valuation of a company is often affected by how much IP they possess and how effective they are at protecting proprietary information. Such assets are also often an essential element in effective branding and competitive positioning.
If you have any questions or confusion concerning IP, it is well worth addressing those issues. The experienced team at Villeda Law Group includes attorneys in McAllen, Texas, who will assist you with an audit of your firm’s IP and your protection efforts.
The Challenges of Trade Secrets
Two pieces of legislation are of particular interest to businesses in Texas. A brief visit with a qualified and knowledgeable lawyer in McAllen, Texas, can provide an overview of the importance of The Texas Trade Secrets Act and the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.
This legislation addresses the growing significance of IP, specifically trade secrets. It is this awareness that is behind such things as a 2021 award in Texas of $152 million in a software dispute and globally in lawsuits involving billions of dollars. If you are not fully aware of this focus on trade secrets, you may ask, “How do you identify and secure a trade secret?”
That is the type of question we help clients with at the Villeda Law Group. The first thing we will explain is that, in the eyes of the law, a trade secret is all forms and types of information, including business, scientific, technical, economic, or engineering information” as well as any “formula, design, prototype, pattern, plan,” or similar item.
In short, those processes and procedures you develop to deliver your product or service have value if they are designated as trade secrets. This is broadly interpreted and can include:
- Financial analysis and data
- Information of a scientific or technical nature
- Client lists
However, we also stress to our clients the critical requirement that you, as a company, must make a concerted effort and take “reasonable measures under the circumstances to keep the information secret.” This issue of trade secret protection is at the core of establishing the value of your IP and keeping it out of the hands of competitors.
Protecting proprietary information to maintain legal rights to it involves a variety of measures. These include:
- The use of proper non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and appropriate confidentiality agreements
- Consistently training and reminding employees and other parties about the nature of and handling of trade secrets
- Properly addressing the issue with any departing employees and proactively ensuring the return of all company information, devices, and other assets
- Providing proper physical and digital security for all trade secrets and confidential information
- Properly identify and label all trade secrets and proprietary information in both digital and physical formats.
There are also actions you or an employee can take that will invalidate a claim to trade secrets. This includes sharing information with individuals not covered by an NDA and failing to advise employees of what is considered a trade secret and confidential.
Protect Your Trade Secrets With the Help of a Lawyer in McAllen, Texas
The field of protecting proprietary information, and particularly trade secrets, is rapidly evolving. Our experienced team invests a great deal of time in tracking the latest rules, regulations, and laws concerning all aspects of IP protection. Call us today to set up a consultation to discuss your case.