(Part Nine in a Series)
Do you expect others to secure your secrets, protect your patents, and guard your goodwill? Then respect the intangible assets of others.
Even if you have implemented sound policies and procedures to protect your intangible assets, your policies will fail if you do not have buy-in from your employees. You can talk a good game about protecting intangible assets, but your employees will take their cue from your actions, not your words.
You must walk the walk, and not just talk the talk.
If you blather on about the importance of your trade secrets and confidential information then try to hack into your competitor’s computer network to gain a competitive advantage, your employees will recognize you as a charlatan and a fraud. Your intangible assets will receive no more respect than what you are willing to give to the assets of others.
Wear a White Hat. Create a Culture of Confidentiality that reverberates through the length and breadth of your company. Conduct yourself in a principled and honorable manner at all times. Compete fairly. Speak truthfully, even when it is a disadvantage to do so. Don’t poach. Be respectful and courteous. Make all of your corners square. Do the right thing, all the time.
When you behave ethically, you have the moral authority to insist that your employees do likewise.
Not only is it the right thing to do, you’ll be glad that you did if you have to file suit to protect your intangible assets. Imagine how difficult it would be to convince a judge to enforce your non-compete agreement against a former employee who testifies that you regularly sought to circumvent your competitors’ restrictive covenants. The judge would, with good reason, proclaim you to be a Black Hat who is unworthy of judicial protection.
Create a Culture of Confidentiality that respects the rights of others, and your business will boom.
I am, first of all, a husband and father. Rebecca and I have been married 23 years; we have four children ages 21, 19, 18, and 15. My family is my greatest joy in life. For 24 years, I have practiced business law in Arizona, the past eleven as the managing partner of Gibson Ferrin, PLC. We help businesses and their owners meet their business and personal goals. My practice focuses on the intersection between intellectual property law and employment law. I help businesses prosper by properly managing their intangible assets.
I am licensed to practice law in Arizona only. Though I believe the advice in BiziBoom™ is based on sound legal principles, the law of your jurisdiction may be different. The advice given on BiziBoom™ is informational only; it may not be applicable to your specific situation. You should seek the advice of competent counsel in your jurisdiction, someone who knows the particular legal requirements of your jurisdiction. Until you have signed an engagement letter with Gibson Ferrin, PLC, neither the Firm nor I are acting as your legal counsel. Nothing on BiziBoom™ creates an attorney/client relationship between you and the Firm.