In a world of global trade and instantaneous communication, the best investment a business can make may be in intellectual capital, and its greatest source of wealth may be knowledge. Intellectual capital is likely to be developed by employees paid to think and to apply their ingenuity and talents for the benefit of employers. To protect its intellectual capital, a business must secure its copyrights, patents, trade secrets, trademarks, service marks, and trade names. The first step in that process is the employer entering into a formal agreement with each employee that clearly establishes that the employer owns and retains control of the intellectual capital, even after the employee has moved on to a new job at a different company, or even when the employee has become a competitor.

Employment contracts and independent contractor agreements are critical to securing a business’s intellectual property. Appropriate contract language is essential for an employer who seeks to limit the damage caused when its intellectual property rights have been misappropriated by former employees or independent contractors. Employers also may rely on statutory and common law protection, but well-crafted agreements are the best protection.

The following posts will strive to explain how Noncompete Agreements and Non-Solicitation Agreements can be used by an employer to protect their Intellectual Property Rights. The following posts should not be taken as legal advice. An employer should always consult with an experienced business attorney when dealing with intellectual property issues.

CREDITS: The content of this and any related posts has been copied or adopted from An Employer’s Guide to Employment Issues in Minnesota, provided by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development & Linquist & Vennum P.L.L.P., Tenth Edition, 2009. Copies are available without charge from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Small Business Assistance Office.