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3 exit interview strategies to protect your trade secrets

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2024 | Trade Secrets |

In competitive fields like media and marketing, it’s crucial for companies to protect their trade secrets. This often involves the use of secure storage and strong encryption. But how do companies manage when an employee departs, particularly from a firm that deals with highly sensitive information?

In these cases, it may be vital to conduct an exit interview. It’s a chance to remind them to keep trade secrets confidential, even after they have left the company.

Preparation for exit interviews

Before starting the interview, it’s a must to develop a standardized process for exit interviews. Such sessions may often require preparing a review of all non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and other legal documents the employee has signed. This should also involve reminding the departing employee about the specific trade secrets they must continue to protect.

Defining trade secrets

Companies have the right to protect their proprietary information when an employee departs. At the same time, it’s natural for employees to take their knowledge into their next roles. This may create a delicate situation. To handle it, companies must provide explicit guidelines about what departing employees must keep confidential, which might include:

  • Unique business processes
  • Proprietary technology
  • Customer lists
  • Unpublished studies or research

Clearly defining and reminding employees about these elements’ confidential nature could help them distinguish between the trade secrets they must protect and the skills they can apply in future roles. This approach also helps prevent accidental disclosure of secrets, whether during casual conversations or in social media posts.

Regulatory requirements

Companies and employees alike must understand and follow laws related to trade secrets. For instance, under the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) law, companies may implement preventative measures to legally protect their trade secrets when an employee leaves for a new job. During exit interviews, companies should educate departing employees about relevant aspects of these laws. This helps both parties stay within legal boundaries, protecting the company’s trade secrets and avoiding potential legal issues.

Employees may take their knowledge and skills into their next job, mainly if these are common in their industry. Trade secret laws may not protect this kind of knowledge. However, under the DTSA, the company can take legal action if they suspect an employee uses trade secrets in their new job, especially at a competitor’s. It’s crucial for both companies and employees to understand these boundaries to ensure fair practice and legal compliance.

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Chenoweth Law Group