Friday, November 4, 2016

Protecting Practice and Trade Internal Manuals

A frequent question posed to me by business clients is how to protect their internal practice and trade manuals, often the compilation product of months if not years of work. Frequently such materials are purloined by a disgruntled ex-employee and provided to a competitor. The two traditional methods are to use copyright law and trade secret law. The former may or may not protect materials depending upon whether the underlying materials are deserving of copyright protection. However, the posting of the traditional copyright notice on the materials may suffice to deter prospective pilferage and use by a competitor. With respect to the latter protection, it is essential that the materials be marked and treated as  truly "confidential." The number of manuals should be tracked and there should be a prohibition against copying.