10 Policies to Make to Keep IP Within Your Office

10 Policies to Make to Keep IP Within Your OfficeIntellectual property (IP) belonging to your company demands preservation to ensure your long term success. Anything pertaining to the design and production of your products and services should be considered closely guarded secrets, especially the things that give your business a competitive advantage. Your accounting, customer databases, market research, and sales data are additional examples of intellectual property that is important to keep secured.

Below you will find 10 policies to make sure you keep IP within your office in spite of the many factors that threaten it and your business.

10 Policies to Make to Keep IP Within Your Office

1. Implement a document tracking system. You should always know where documents pertaining to your company and its products are stored. Use RFID and barcode schemes to track printed and recorded intellectual property and make force users to check in and check out when accessing digital documents and content. This way you always know who has what and where they have it so you can easily find tracks should you discover any unauthorized leaks.

2. Data control software. Data control software can be deployed that will prevent certain data from being disseminated from a laptop computer. This type of software requires certain types of content to be sent only via desktop stations where IT and security measures are more robust than they are on laptops which can be used in private to offload proprietary information.

3. Encryption. By instituting a mandatory internal encryption schema, internal personnel can access files based on their security levels while files sent outside the network will be unusable.

4. Have employees sign confidentiality contracts. Confidentiality clauses should be a part of every contract signed as well as part of the employee handbook. Employees who establish a physical record of their agreement to terms are less likely to compromise your intellectual property because they do not want to risk legal action.

5. Define your intellectual property. By establishing a written definition of what consists of proprietary and intellectual information you tighten your legal case against any employees who might argue in court that they did not know what you meant by intellectual property. Once developed, a copy of this definition should be signed by every employee with a witness on hand to verify.

6. Take enforcement action. When an employee or former employee is found to have violated confidentiality agreements and has taken your intellectual property rights (such as a customer list) to a competitor, take disciplinary action against the employee (if still employed by your company) and then seek a court order to prevent further disclosure. Finally, seek a legal judgment against that employee so everyone knows that you are serious.</li>

7. Beware of social networking.  Now that much sales lead generation is done online, companies face the prospect of an employee generating a wealth of leads and relationships on Web sites such as LinkedIn and then keeping those leads after going to work for your competitor. They just update their profile with their new employer and harvest all those leads that you paid the employee to create. To combat this type of theft, every company should have a clear cut social networking policy defined to shore up their position in court.

8. Enforce a network access rights policy. One of the best ways to keep your intellectual property within your business is to restrict access to it. If possible, keep IP on separate network segments so employees cannot have routine access to it. By maintaining aggressive user level controls, you limit the ability for employees to use your IP for unauthorized purposes.

9. Reporting. An internal reporting system should be in place within your company where other employees can report the unauthorized use of proprietary material. Similarly, you can have an external hotline or Web site link that people can use to report finding counterfeits of your products so you can work to track down violations.

10. Loss prevention software.  Because many new government regulations require companies to control access to certain types of data, the new software that is available can track access for use to determine company compliance during audits. This type of software, used for HIPPA, GLBA, and other purposes can identify users who have acted on a file within a given time period, giving you further evidence in court.

These 10 policies to make it easier for you to keep intellectual property within your office should form the foundation of a comprehensive effort to control your data. Get started now before it is too late.

John Brook is a writer and product analyst who works for  Office Kitten, a leading UK based store specialising office supplies.

photo credit: mlinksva

10 Policies to Make Keep IP Within Your Office
  • One thing we do in my company, everything we work on related to web applications is kept in a versioning repository on our main servers, and everyone with access to it is monitored, and activities tracked and reported.
    I have to say we are not paranoid about it due to the very essence of our company, but we do our best in our little 😉
    Nice post, especially ’cause I am very interested about IP in general.