Protecting Confidential Information

Important information to consider to protect your company’s confidential information when doing business in the US

Do I have any protection in Pennsylvania against an employee learning my production techniques, pricing or other confidential information, then taking that information to go to work for another company?

Yes. First, Pennsylvania has a well developed body of law protecting “trade secrets.” Confidential information that the employee obtained during their employment qualifies as a trade secret. If an employee were to try to use that information after leaving your employment, you may be able to get a court order preventing both the former employee and the new employer from using the “trade secrets.” You also might be able to recover any profits that you lost because of the improper use of the confidential information. Employees in Pennsylvania are considered to owe an obligation to their employer to keep confidential information to themselves and not use it improperly. Second, you may decide to create a contractual right of protection. Employers often will include a requirement to protect confidential information in their employment agreements.

What about inventions developed by the employee while they are working for me? Who gets to keep the rights to the invention — the employer or the employee?
How can I prevent a former employee from using everything that I taught him or her to then go after my customers?
If my intellectual property is protected in my own country, do I need to do anything more to protect it when I start using it or selling it in the United States?
If I have a product or a special manufacturing process that my company has developed, how much time does it take and what does it cost to protect it in the United States?
Is there somewhere that I can register my company name? Will that protect me from others in the marketplace using the same name?
Do I need to spend $7,000 or more to protect the unique design or appearance of my product?