World Intellectual Property Organization

Precautionary Measures to be Taken by Your SME

Trade secrets are widely used by SMEs. In fact, many SMEs rely almost exclusively on trade secrets for the protection of their IP (although in many cases they may not even be aware that trade secrets are legally protected). It is important, therefore, to make sure that enterprises take all necessary measures to protect their trade secrets effectively. This includes:

  • Firstly, considering whether the secret is patentable and, if so, whether it would not be better protected by a patent.
  • Secondly, making sure that a limited number of people know the secret and that all those who do are well aware that it is confidential information.
  • Thirdly, including confidentiality agreements within employees' contracts. Under the law of many countries, however, employees owe confidentiality to their employer even without such agreements. The duty to maintain confidentiality on the employer's secrets generally remains, at least for a certain period of time, even after the employee has left the employment.
  • Fourthly, signing confidentiality agreements with business partners whenever disclosing confidential information.

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