Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

When an employee steals company intellectual property

When employers interview potential applicants for open positions at their places of business, they generally work hard to find the best candidates possible. They only hire applicants after applications have been filled out, background checks have been performed and contracts have been signed. It is precisely because the hiring process is so involved that it is shocking when an employee steals a company’s intellectual property. One would generally assume that the rigors of the hiring process would weed out candidates capable of such behavior.

However, there remain a myriad of reasons why employees would risk their jobs and their reputation in order to profit off of a company’s protected intellectual property. As a result, it is critically important that employers understand how to respond to intellectual property theft when it occurs.

In general, it is vital that employers consult with attorneys experienced in this area of law before responding to intellectual property theft. Employment law considerations, business and commercial law considerations and intellectual property law considerations all factor into how businesses may respond legally and effectively to this particular kind of internal theft. Failure to take any of these considerations into account could leave employers in more hot water than they bargained for. An attorney can generally guide employers through these considerations in order to improve the situation when possible and to keep it from getting even messier and more costly than necessary.

Employee theft of company intellectual property is a betrayal. But employers should avoid reacting emotionally and without a sound legal game plan mapped out in advance.

Source: Forbes, “Stealing The Secret Sauce: Intellectual Property,” Dave Lewis, Oct. 30, 2014

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