Keeping an edge over the competition often seems like a never-ending process for many Tennessee business owners. Intellectual property could help a company stay viable in its market, but protecting it can take some doing. Federal law protects a good deal of IP, but that does not mean that taking extra precautions to keep it safe are not warranted. For instance, trade secrets are not covered by federal law even if a patent, trademark or copyright is, so they require more security.

Confidentiality agreements could help. These contracts between an employer and employee require the employee not to discuss what he or she sees or does with the company. They can be tailored to fit the circumstances, but the crux is that the employee faces consequences if he or she reveals the information protected by the agreement.

Individuals outside the company may also be required to sign confidentiality agreements. It is not always possible to keep outside contractors, vendors or maintenance people away from proprietary equipment, processes or information. Employers often also want employees not to engage in the same kind of work within a certain radius of the company should they leave. These “non-compete” agreements remain somewhat controversial and must be worded carefully and in accordance with applicable laws in order to remain valid.

In fact, any agreements a Tennessee company requires employees or certain outsiders to sign need to comply with the laws that govern them. Otherwise, they may not be enforceable should they be needed. Drafting confidentiality and other agreements would best be left to an experienced attorney who can help protect a business and its intellectual property.