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How Do I Qualify for and Obtain Trade Se... > Physical Protection of Trade Secrets - Pg. 138

A Primer on Intellectual Property Note 138 THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED WORK CONTAINING [COMPANY] CONFIDENTIAL AND PROPRIETARY INFORMATION. IF PUBLICATION OCCURS, THE FOLLOWING NO- TICE APPLIES: "COPYRIGHT (©) 20XX [COMPANY] ALL RIGHTS RESERVED." The distinction between "published" and "unpublished" software is discussed further in the "Pro- tecting Your Assets: Enforcement: Notices" section. Note CAUTION Over-protection is almost as dangerous asunder-protection. A court may refuse to up- holdconfidential status for any company informationif you designate all of it as confidential. Third Parties Releasing the information to a party who is not under confidentiality obligations can permanently destroy trade secret protection because that party can make the information public, thereby dis- qualifying it from the trade secret category. Simply put: every third party receiving material containing trade secrets must sign an NDA obligating the recipient and all of its employees and contractors to protect the confidential material (see Chapter 4 for a sample NDA). When you sign an NDA with a company, trade secrets are the bulk of what is being protected. Even if you are not releasing hard assets like code, you may be disclosing protected information. Example: Developer A (a famous sim creator) wants to demo an RPG to Publisher B. Developer A cannot protect the idea of an RPG game because it is generally known , but it may request an NDA to protect the fact that the company is developing an RPG. Competitive strategy-- in this case, a bet on the RPG market--can qualify as a trade secret. Physical Protection of Trade Secrets · Mark all trade secret materials and documents containing such materials "CONFIDENTIAL AND PROPRIETARY." Additional notices are highly recommended and are discussed below in the "Protecting Your Assets: Enforcement: Notices" section. · Confidential information should be shared on a "need to know" basis--it is expected that some- times this will be everyone in the company. · Use passwords and available security measures to protect computer files; keep hard materials (pitch bibles, printed copies of code or files) in a locked file cabinet or in a locked office. · Use encryption or other data-protection measures when e-mailing sensitive files and when FTP'ing files. · Maintain a clean-desk policy: no confidential materials should be left out while the employee is away from his desk. · Enforce a building-security policy that prevents unknown people from entering and circulating through the company. This can be as simple as stationing a receptionist in front of the door and insisting that all visitors be accompanied by an employee at all times. · Use common sense and a healthy dose of paranoia in public: don't discuss confidential matters in Starbucks, on a plane, elevator, restaurant, or any public place. This goes double for public places around trade shows and triple for trade show parties. Remind employees that an open bar is a loaded weapon aimed at them. · Review speeches employees are scheduled to deliver at public events--you might be surprised what can leak out this way. · Maintain a work/home separation where possible. Keep confidential material at the office as much as possible, and ask employees to guard the information when working away from the office. If you believe it is warranted, additional measures may include: