Topics related to intellectual property routinely are neglected in daily business planning and operations (which is surprising given that intellectual property is by far the main value driver in most businesses). Take, for example, the hiring process. Businesses put a lot of time and effort into identifying employment candidates, planning and conducting candidate interviews, and orienting hires to their new positions. Yet intellectual property is often under-appreciated and under-discussed during the hiring process.
In a previous post, I stressed the importance of a business entity documenting and “living” its Intellectual Property (IP) security policy. A good place to start implementing an IP security policy is the business activity that is critical to the success of any organization: staffing.
For example, an IP security policy should include documentation and training that contains guidelines for addressing IP at every employment candidate interview. Such guidelines should guard against an employment candidate exposing the business to accusations by the candidate’s previous employer(s) of infringement or misappropriation. At a minimum, each pre-hire interview should start with the first interviewer explaining to the candidate that the hiring company has strict policies against improperly acquiring another company’s trade secrets and infringing on another’s company’s exclusive rights.
With that lead in, the interviewer could ask the candidate to list the trade secrets the candidate knows (without revealing protected detail, of course). Near the end of the interview, the interviewer also could ask the candidate to confirm her belief that she can perform the duties of the job for which she is being interviewed, knowing what she knows, without using any previous employer’s trade secrets.
Next time: IP Security Policy and the post-hire process.