Practical And Successful Solutions To
Business And Intellectual Property Legal Issues

How do we protect intellectual property from employees who leave?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | Intellectual Property Law |

As a Florida business owner, safeguarding your intellectual property from potential misuse or theft by departing employees is crucial. Intellectual property includes inventions, designs, artistic works, logos and brand names that can significantly contribute to your competitive advantage and business reputation. When employees leave and have access to your trade secrets, patents, copyrights, trademarks or trade dress, there are steps you can take to protect your IP.

Use written agreements

Utilize written agreements with your employees to clearly outline their responsibilities and obligations concerning your IP. This includes non-disclosure agreements, which prohibit employees from disclosing or using confidential information, such as trade secrets or business plans. It may also include non-compete agreements that restrict employees from working for competitors or engaging in competitive activities for a specified period and within a defined geographic area. However, there are important limitations on non-compete agreements.

Other agreements include Assignment of Inventions Agreements, which secure ownership of any inventions or discoveries made by employees during their employment. And, Work-for-Hire Agreements that establish that works of authorship created by employees during their employment are owned by your business.

Educate your employees

Conduct regular training sessions, workshops or seminars to educate employees about the significance and value of your IP. Topics may include types of IP and their importance, IP policies and procedures and handling and protecting confidential information. Other topics may include avoiding infringement on third-party IP rights, and reporting suspected IP violations. Provide accessible guidelines or codes of conduct on IP matters.

Monitor and enforce IP rights

Take proactive measures to monitor and enforce your IP rights against potential infringement or misuse by former employees. This involves regular audits or reviews of your IP assets, implementing security measures to prevent unauthorized access and using tracking tools such as watermarking or numbering to identify and trace your IP.

Employ online tools to detect potential online infringement. Send cease-and-desist letters or notices to infringers. Negotiate settlements or licenses with infringers. And, file legal actions, including lawsuits or injunctions, against infringers.


Your intellectual property is a valuable asset, and protecting it from departing employees is essential. Through written agreements, employee education and active monitoring and enforcement of IP rights, you can significantly reduce the risk of theft or misuse.