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Job interviews and intellectual property

Many Colorado companies possess valuable intellectual property assets such as software code, patents, trademarks and copyrights vital for marketplace advantages. Interviewing job candidates or having employees lured away by competitors present two situations when intellectual property could be compromised by outsiders.

When interviewing a job applicant, the discussion of proprietary information could become necessary. Cautious companies could use a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement to establish their legal claims to intellectual property prior to divulging any such content. A job candidate who signs the document would be exposed to legal action if information discussed during the interview was later shared with competitors or used to start a company.

Once a person is hired, an employer could have the new recruit sign an ownership of intellectual property agreement or non-compete agreement. The ownership agreement establishes from the beginning that the ideas developed during the course of the person's employment belong exclusively to the company. The non-compete agreement bars the person from working in a similar capacity for another company within a specified period of time, although several states frown on them or place restrictions on their scope and enforceability. The agreement could also apply to the person's future entrepreneurial efforts and prohibit the creation of a new company based on the proprietary information.

Human resources managers who need to recruit talent and protect a company's assets could work with an attorney to develop confidentiality and non-compete agreements. An attorney could determine which of the company's assets qualify as legally protected intellectual property or trade secrets and develop language meant to safeguard this information.

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