Today’s next-generation manufacturing is marked by speed and technology. However, technology can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, technological innovations and advancements have resulted in a manufacturing resurgence in the United States. On the other hand, technology also makes confidential and proprietary information more vulnerable to disclosures, either intentionally or inadvertently. Foolish is the next-generation manufacturer that ignores the measures required to protect its investment in innovation.
Smart next-generation manufacturers recognize the danger of losing key employees, along with confidential and proprietary information, and proactively take the sometimes tedious and controversial preventative steps. First, if you, like many employers in the manufacturing arena, historically had an aversion to requiring non-compete/non-disclosure agreements for your key employees, it is time to reconsider. Second, this may seem elementary, but next-generation manufacturers must treat confidential and proprietary information as if it is TRULY confidential and send that message to its employees.
The protection process should start early and continue throughout the employment relationship, especially at the end of the relationship. If a former employee does go to a competitor and begins using your confidential and/or proprietary information, there are options short of litigation, such as timed certifications from the former employee and the new employer that can provide protection. However, sometimes litigation is unavoidable.