How Is Your Accounting Firm Protecting Its Intellectual Property?

A version of this post originally appears at Breathing Space.
 
Have you ever stopped to think that you have valuable property right on your hard drive? Whether self-employed, or independent of any the proprietary materials you have prepared for your accounting firm, undoubtedly, you have a variety of notes that you have taken over the years arranged in various categories. You have written untold paragraphs. You have outlines, notes, and perhaps transcripts.
 
On top of all these items, it is likely that you have boilerplate material for contracts and agreements. You might have carefully crafted letters that you’ve adapted based on the particular situation at hand, and other templates, rosters, and check lists that represent value, the likes of which you might not have recently, or ever, contemplated.
 
What about your personal database? If you have 1,000 or 10,000 names, these represent intellectual property of sorts –- marketing intelligence, in this case. Elsewhere on your hard drive, you might have proprietary photographs, as well as formulas or processes. You may have data, notes, or material on specific industries, trend data, quotes, or collections.
  • Given the high probability that your hard drive examined in this new light contains a wealth of intellectual properties, how are you protecting your property?
  • Do you have a well-developed and often-practiced back-up routine to save and store your valuable files?
  • Do you have security measures in place so that unauthorized individuals are not privy to them?
  • If you run your own firm, do you have a confidentiality policy and trade secret policy prepared, which mandates that any staff you might employee are required to sign a written notice acknowledging that they have read and understood such policies?
  • Also, if you manage your own business, do you execute work-for-hire agreements so that it is clear to all participating parties that work you authorize and pay for shall become and remain solely your property?
The more valuable your intellectual property, be it on your hard drive, or any place in your office, the more important it is to safeguard your belongings.

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