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When Comrades Go Bad

Protecting yourself from business allies turned business <i>competitors</i>

This story appears in the June 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It's a nightmare you don't even want to think about: The "reliable" supplier you've been using for years has unexpectedly bypassed you...to sell to your customers. Worse yet, because of your past business relationship and their knowledge of your company, it's become an especially strong competitor. What should you do? And, equally important, what can you do to prevent such a scenario from ever happening in the first place?

Unfortunately, you can't stop another company from changing its direction, but you can take steps to prevent it from using your business as a springboard. Begin by recognizing the value of your proprietary information, says William H. Robbinson Jr., an attorney with Winderweedle, Haines, Ward & Woodman in Orlando, Florida. "Companies have a variety of proprietary information that they develop or acquire that has great value to them and can be protected in a number of ways."

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