Just because your company doesn’t make widgets or gadgets or ship “things” out in boxes, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything that can be stolen. In fact, customer data, operational information, trade secrets and business strategies are just as likely to drive corporate revenue as physical products. That makes “intellectual property” (IP) a pretty appealing target to outsiders, which is why it’s important to evaluate your IP exposure and pursue a risk transfer strategy via specific IP insurance coverage.
While our last blog included an initial checklist to review potential risk factors for IP loss, considering the value of your intellectual property, you’ll need more than just an insurance policy. Even companies with fairly low IP insurance coverage levels should take a proactive approach to minimize or prevent IP theft in the first place.
IP compliance programs should be implemented, monitored and updated by a dedicated team, to ensure policies and procedures remain current. This isn’t something you can leave to chance or do just one time. Every corporate change requires evaluation of its impact on IP risk.
A few other considerations:
- Make sure every department understands their role in corporate security. Top management should emphasize expectations for the entire team.
- Comprehensive record-keeping standards should be in place. This will not only improve the chances of finding potential issues before IP theft can occur, but will support forensics should an IP loss occur.
- Extend any program requirements to include suppliers and business partners as well. Confirm their participation in writing.
- Train all employees and get their signature regarding program rules. This should include clear parameters for sharing of intellectual property internally, externally and after employment ends.
- Identify what corrective actions might be taken if the program isn’t followed and provide a way for all employees to suggest improvements or changes.
- Don’t forget the importance of strong cyber security policies either. The more paths, both into and out of your company that you can shore up, the more likely you will be to prevent or catch IP thieves.
Interested in learning more? Just contact me for more information.