To protect its assets, a business should review the status of the confidential and proprietary information and intellectual property upon which its operation relies. To do this, a business should consider developing a Confidentiality Plan.
A Confidentiality Plan is a business-wide plan whereby management evaluates what confidential and proprietary information (customer lists, marketing plans, pricing strategies, etc.) and what intellectual property (copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc.) the business owns, and what legal and practical ways exist to protect those assets.
As the first step in developing a Confidentiality Plan, management should take five steps:
- Determine what information the business currently considers important to its operation;
- Determine what people are critical to the operation;
- Review the direction of the business’ operation;
- Review the legal and practical steps currently being taken to protect the business’ confidential information and intellectual property; and
- Determine the business’ legal ability to protect its confidential information and intellectual property under the Illinois Trade Secrets Act and other laws.
A Confidentiality Plan will vary from business to business but should contain these four elements:
- A summary of the information which is the foundation on which the plan is developed;
- The legal measures which should be taken to protect the business’ confidential information and intellectual property;
- The non-legal measures to take, which would include security measures for confidential and proprietary information; and
- Implementation and monitoring procedures.
With a Confidentiality Plan in place, a business can protect its patents, business systems and other valuable company information.