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Keep It Confidential

If you don't keep your company secrets under lock and key, your competitive edge might walk right out the door.

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This story appears in the March 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Suppose one of your key employees leaves your company and goes to work for a competitor. That's bad enough in itself, but what if your former employee takes more than his or her talent and experience? What if that employee knows all your trade secrets: your formulas, suppliers, techniques, customers and contacts?

"In an information-based society, a company's greatest assets take the form not of, say, iron ore fields, but of information," says Robert Linn, an attorney with Cohen & Grigsby in Pittsburgh who specializes in the protection of intellectual property and trade secrets. Failure to protect those secrets, Linn says, can mean the loss of everything from key customers to confidential processes and techniques--the very information that gives your company a competitive edge in the marketplace.

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