A recent survey found that that a common culprit of intellectual property or trade secret theft may be an individual that a company knows quite well: one of its own former employees. The Mountain View, California-based global security software company Symantec said in a recent press release that half of its employees who left their jobs in the past year kept confidential corporate data. Additionally, 40 percent said they planned to use that information in their new jobs. “Companies cannot focus their defenses solely on external attackers and malicious insiders who plan to sell stolen IP for monetary gain,” Symantec’s vice president of engineering and product management Lawrence Bruhmuller said in the release. “The everyday employee, who takes confidential corporate data without a second thought because he doesn’t understand it’s wrong, can be just as damaging to an organization.”
In a company blog post, Symantec stated “employees are the less obvious player” when it comes to IP theft. However, a former employee can be what the security firm referred to as a “frenemy,” meaning that the relationship between the employer and the individual “is both mutually beneficial or dependent while being competitive, fraught with risk.” Symantec offered three recommendations based on its survey results:
- Employee education — The study found that 44 percent of employees believe a software developer who develops source code for a company has some ownership in his or her work and inventions. Furthermore, 42 percent do not think it is a crime to reuse the source code, without permission, in projects for other companies.
- Enforce non-disclosure agreements — Symantec found that 38 percent of employees say their manager views data protection as a business priority, and 51 percent think it is acceptable to take corporate data because their company does not strictly enforce policies.
- Monitor technology — The release stated that only 47 percent of employees said their organizations take action when employees take sensitive information contrary to company policy. Additionally, 68 percent said that their organization does not take steps to ensure employees do not use confidential competitive information from third parties.
You can find additional information about trade secrets litigation by visiting our website. If you need help creating non-disclosure agreements or drafting contracts, use the form on this page or contact our firm at [number] to have our Los Angeles trade secret attorney review your case.
Klein Trial Lawyers – Los Angeles business litigation lawyers
Quick Klein Extra: Symantec found that 62 percent of employees say it is acceptable to transfer work documents to personal computers or devices.