Lesson 4: Practical Measures for Protecting Confidential Information/Trade Secrets

Taking ‘reasonable’ measures to guard the secret: What is "reasonable" will vary depending on the circumstances.

Establishing minimal levels of protection will likely result in the confidentiality being lost, and with it, your legal entitlement. Too much protection may be cumbersome, costly and stifle the creative use of the confidential information/trade secrets.

The goal should be to take strong proactive measures to protect your sensitive information as it demonstrates to a court that the information is valuable to you and you are serious about protecting it. A court will therefore be more likely to protect you against disclosure and misuse.

We will illustrate what reasonable protections might look like in the context of each of the scenarios below.

Scenario 1: Carelessness

The CEO of Acme goes in to meet with ABC Inc., whom she hopes to partner with, to discuss a secret new method for manufacturing a particular drug. When she goes to register with the front desk and fill out ABC Inc.’s extensive security questionnaire, she leaves the folder with information detailing the secret method and marked with the label “Confidential Information” in plain sight in the reception area. The reception area has other people sitting in it and the folder is outside of her line of sight.

Scenario 2: Open Offices


Acme has just recently moved into a building where one of its competitors' offices is on the same floor.  Acme has always had an open door policy and so it encourages people to work out in an open space rather than work in separate confined offices. The result is that people leave their materials on their desks and tend to have conversations while they are at their desks. These conversations can be easily overheard, even outside of Acme's premises.

Last modified: Monday, 18 September 2017, 3:51 PM