Companies are permitting (or requiring) employees to work remotely right now in response to COVID-19 concerns. This decision, calculated to minimize certain risks, presents new and wide-ranging concerns for the protection of trade secrets. In this “temporary” working remotely environment, employees will have considerable opportunity to access, download, or store sensitive information from company systems and databases. Have you vetted these circumstances or otherwise addressed their use? Think – home printers? Cell phones? Tablets? Personal email accounts? Working in public places such as libraries and coffee shops? Companies may also be inclined to relax otherwise well thought out document management rules or allow for workarounds from the usual security measures in the interest of business continuity. In such an environment, employees may make assumptions that they have wider latitude to email, copy, send, print, or download information, given the circumstances. Compounding these insider risks are a series of unknowns, such as whether your employees’ home networks have security anywhere near on par with in-office network security that could allow outsiders to intrude or access data.

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Author

William (Bill) Dugan is a partner in Baker McKenzie’s Employment and Compensation Practice Group, residing in Chicago and New York, chair of the US Disputes Employment Group, co-chair of the North American Employment Disputes Group.

Author

Christine focuses her practice on trade regulatory and intellectual property matters, including disputes and counseling to companies on a variety of commercial activity including distribution agreements, joint venture arrangements, and supply agreements, as well as assessing compliance with import duties.

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