Manufacturers do not fully understand the trade secrets they have created and their relative competitive value. They do not systematically track and monitor their trade secrets, and overlook potential trade secrets and proprietary information that are not “technological” but provide a definite competitive advantage.
American companies lose an estimated $150 billion to trade secret theft each year.
Unfortunately, while much emphasis is placed upon the creation of trade secrets and technological innovations, not enough attention has been paid to the blocking and tackling needed to protect them.
First, perhaps surprisingly, companies sometimes do not fully know what they have created and the relative value of these trade secrets. One of the most famous examples of this mistake is when Xerox provided Steve Jobs and Apple too much access to its Palo Alto Research Center. As is chronicled in the Jobs biography, while some of the scientists at Xerox knew the value of what was being disclosed, and were horrified that the transfer of technology was occurring, the executives did not appreciate the significance of the disclosed technology.
Read more about how to protect your company’s trade secrets on IndustryWeek.
IndustryWeek is an NED companion site within Penton’s Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group.