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  • Writer's pictureMark Stumer

TRADE SECRET: Keeping Secrets Secret

Trade secret stamp

In the highly competitive restaurant industry, owners must take steps to protect their proprietary information, such as recipes, techniques, concepts and strategies from theft by former employees. Trade Secrets are any type of information that provides the owner of that information with a competitive advantage as a result of the information not being generally known and readily ascertainable by others.

GENERAL RULE: An owner should protect Trade Secrets with Confidentiality Agreements and take all measures necessary to keep such information secure from disclosure.

Employees who are involved with proprietary information, as well as managers and restaurant executives, should sign confidentiality agreements. In pertinent part, the confidentiality agreement should state the general information that is considered trade secret and should further state that any use or disclosure of this information, other than that specifically allowed by the employer, will be considered a breach of confidentiality and shall subject the employee to legal action and any damages.

As further protection, confidential documents containing recipes, concepts and techniques should be marked “Proprietary and Confidential Information; do not copy or distribute.

Remind departing employees in writing of their continuing obligation to the confidentiality of the Trade Secrets of your company and have them return all manuals and documents they have in their possession when they leave your employment.

An experienced restaurant employment attorney can draft the appropriate confidentiality Agreement for your specific establishment and can develop a program for you to implement which will maximize your chances that such information will remain confidential and be classified as Trade Secret.

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