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Playing Keep-Away: Protecting Your Trade Secrets in a Remote Work Environment

Companies across the United States quickly rolled out remote work arrangements in response to the COVID-19 health crisis, and as virus caseloads continue to climb, the trend is likely to continue. As working off-site becomes “the new normal,” companies can institute systems and policies to protect their valuable trade secrets.

Providing a company-owned computer to employees who have access to critical information is a recommended best practice. Although it’s more convenient and less expensive to let employees use their own equipment, companies can track activity on their own devices and configure them to block certain kinds of downloads and file transfers. It’s also far easier to get court approval for forensic imaging and auditing of a company-owned computer if the employee leaves or is laid-off and is suspected of stealing trade secrets.

Clearly labeling what information is considered a trade secret can help deter employees from stealing. Making that classification can also serve as evidence an employee knew, or should have known, that the information was a trade secret if they need to pursue litigation against former workers. Restricting access to information on a need-to-know basis, such as by blocking research and development employees from viewing customer databases is another effective way to protect trade secrets. Software and analytics can also help companies track who is accessing or downloading specific information and audit particular employees’ activity.

Though widespread remote work means that employees are out of sight, with thoughtful planning and investment in the appropriate technology, companies can continue to keep watch over their most valuable trade secrets.

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©1994-2021 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 205
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About this Author

Adam Samansky IP Attorney Mintz Law Firm
Member

Adam is an experienced IP litigator who primarily serves pharmaceutical, medical, high tech, and defense industry clients. He handles patent, trademark, and trade secret matters for innovators and investors. Adam has a strong record of success in multiparty, highly contested Hatch-Waxman litigation, in addition to other litigations involving advanced biochemistry, polymers, optics, manufacturing processes, and electronics. He has tried cases before multiple US district courts, briefed and argued cases before the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and briefed bet-the-company...

617-348-1819
Nicholas W. Armington, mintz levin law firm, patent, IP, litigation attorney
Associate

Nicholas is a litigator with experience representing clients in United States District Courts and the International Trade Commission, among other venues. Nicholas’ practice focuses on patent and trade secret litigation and he has litigated cases in a variety of technology areas, including network devices, semiconductors, converged devices, LED lighting, and manufacturing devices.

In 2018-2019, Nicholas served as a Special Assistant District Attorney in the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office prosecuting criminal cases in the Framingham and Natick District...

1.617.348.4451
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