Effective on October 1, 2021, the “Combating Corporate Espionage in Florida Act” was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. The new legislation revived the discussion about intellectual property theft by foreign governments and companies. 

In this article, you will have an overview of efficient methods to protect trade secrets in Florida. 

Combating Corporate Espionage Florida – Proven Solutions 

Trade Secret Protection Policy and Procedure  

Under Florida law, all trade secrets have three basic elements – they are secret, granting their owners a competitive advantage over competitors, and requiring reasonable efforts to maintain their secrecy. 

Preventing corporate espionage and trade secret misappropriation involves the creation of strong policies and procedures to preclude these actions. Trade secret owners must diligently: 

  • Review the company’s existing policies  
  • Review and update necessary information stored electronically 
  • Use different technological tools to shield business information (e.g., blockchain storage) 
  • Ensure that employees understand the legal consequences of espionage and trade secret misappropriation  
  • Protect trade secrets with confidentiality agreements (if applicable) 

Restricted Access  

If a piece of business information is readily available to all employees, it is not a trade secret. It is fundamental to create policies and procedures to shield business data and information against inadequate access. 

Only a restricted list of individuals may have access to confidential or proprietary business information, which business owners may ensure by: 

  • Maintaining an updated list of the individuals who have access to trade secrets 
  • Allowing access to trade secrets only when it is strictly necessary 
  • Prohibiting employees from using their personal devices to interact with business data 
  • Restricting USB devices that are not company-issued 
  • Designing intra-company USB devices that only work on the company’s computers 
  • Creating logs of USB devices issued to employees 

Human Resources Policies vs. Departure of Employees 

Many cases of espionage or trade secret misappropriation involve the departure of employees under specific circumstances. Trade secret owners must establish specific procedures for handling the departure of employees who had access to trade secrets. 

If an employee is departing the company, it is essential to restrict that individual’s ability to access and collect confidential or proprietary company data. Some important steps include: 

  • Disable the departing employee’s access to the company network  
  • Disable the departing employee’s access to the company data and e-mail  
  • Review the company information held by the employee 
  • Create mechanisms to return the information before the employee’s departure 

Cautious Hiring Procedures  

Under the new act, employers who bring trade secrets from a previous employer with them are exposed to potential liability.  

When hiring new individuals for a company, it is fundamental to ensure that the person has not taken, disclosed, or used trade secrets from his or her previous employer. If a new employee was privy to trade secrets of their previous employment, consult with an expert attorney. 

Reviewing Former Employee’s Activity  

When an employee departs the company, it is important to review that employee’s activity to identify whether he or she was accessing files outside of their scope of work. Suspicious activities include: 

  • Printing excessively  
  • Printing documents outside of the normal business hours 
  • Printing confidential or proprietary information  
  • Emailing confidential or proprietary information to a personal email account 

Combating Corporate Espionage in Florida Act – Contact Attorney Romy B. Jurado Today 

Protecting intellectual property under the new act requires a strategic approach. Get in touch with Attorney Romy B. Jurado today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected] for expert legal guidance.