The many companies that make up the crest of the American economic wave invest every single day in developing cutting-edge technology, conducting groundbreaking research, and developing innovative intellectual property. With all that’s at stake for businesses and their many hard-working employees, the threat of trade secret theft should always be taken seriously. But what do you do if you suspect a theft of this nature, and how can you guard against them?
While there may not be fingerprints to find or stolen goods to track, intellectual property or corporate data theft still always leaves a trail of leads to follow. Corporate security and investigations specialists from Lauth Investigations provide expert assistance to organizations across a spectrum of scales and industries, helping them uncover the perpetrators behind trade secret thefts while building a solid case so that swift action can be taken. Here, we will explore what steps to follow when non-compete violations or IP thefts occur, and how to armor-plate your trade secrets in the future.
What to do When Suspicion Arises
Few things can induce panic on a similar scale within the corporate world. For businesses that suspect an employee or outsider may have stolen trade secrets, it can truly feel as if the clock has started ticking. Corporate data theft may throw sensitive information into the public sphere—damaging a company’s reputation in a split-second—or it may allow competitors how to gain a crippling advantage. When trade secrets are stolen or intentionally leaked by an employer, potential return on years spent investing can start to feel like a fading mirage. The key when suspicion arises is to move quickly, knowing that the right tactic may interrupt a crisis before it fully unfolds.
Turning to professional corporate investigation services when this kind of countdown begins will make the most of precious time. Seasoned investigators will immediately begin gathering information on any suspects, while working with you to identify vulnerabilities that may have exposed trade secrets to risk, and painting a picture of the circumstances driving any breach.
In the case of a non-compete violation, a disgruntled employee may have sought an opportunity for illegal gain, but equally, a competitor may have approached them with ill intentions. Alongside launching an in-depth investigation of internal events, a fully licensed corporate investigator will also be able to gather corporate intelligence, revealing the scope of the crime at hand.
Mitigating Damage When Trade Secrets are Stolen
When an employee gives notice and moves on to a direct competitor with your company’s data in tow, it can be easy to imagine that the competitor in question is in on the scam. Through the corporate competitor intelligence gathering process, investigators may be able to uncover disproportionate compensation or benefits on the table that warrant suspicion. In other cases, reaching out to the competitor to inform them that their prospective employee is held by a non-compete contractual obligation may stop a potential snowball in its tracks.
Trained in both conflict resolution and interrogation, corporate investigators will be able to provide impartial support as you conduct an exit interview with a red-flag employee. This crucial meeting will facilitate the re-establishment of the legal ramifications of trade secret theft, and provide an ill-intentioned departing employee with the opportunity to think twice. At this juncture, asking the right questions will also force a thief in the act to either lie or confess. If an employee gives false answers in a documented interview, this may later serve as vital evidence.
Regardless of whether interventions are effective, the role of a corporate investigator will also include collecting and preserving evidence. This could include performing background checks, reviewing employment records, combing through digital activity records, and carrying out surveillance. When trade secret theft occurs, a high-caliber corporate investigator will be ready to advise on the most prudent course of action.
Reducing the Risk of Non-Compete Violations and Intellectual Property Theft
Contemporary corporate investigation services increasingly strike a balance between prevention and resolution. A trusted corporate investigations firm can help your business reduce risks by performing in-depth background checks before new recruits are brought on board, compiling corporate competitive intelligence, and performing security audits of both physical premises and digital practices.
All too often, corporate theft is only a contributing piece of evidence pointing to eroded culture within the workplace. A Corporate Culture Audit from Lauth Investigations can provide not only a vivid insight into the health of your business’s inner workings, but also a multi-faceted strategy to iron-clad the road ahead. Discover more about our corporate services, or contact our team today for access to expert guidance and swift tailored solutions.