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Self Assessment #2

Must Know Questions for Decision-Makers

Information does have value!

1. As founder and president of a company, you are nearing retirement and considering a 'buy out' offer from a competitor. In preparing for the financial due diligence related to the buyout, your attorney and accountant asked you to:
a. describe specific competitive advantages your firm has achieved in the past five years?

b. estimate the amount of time, effort and money expended by you and the c company to achieve those competitive advantages?
2. For several months you have been concerned that an executive who resigned from your company to work for a competitor may have (unintentionally or intentionally) provided them with information which you considered to be a 'trade secret'. A report recently submitted by an attorney you hired to investigate the matter suggests your concerns may be well founded. Before you decide to bring - not bring an infringement (misappropriation-infringement) lawsuit, you are advised to:
a. Produce a birth certificate and custody record to prove the contested information (trade secret) was born and retained inside your company.

b. Describe the ease - difficulty the contested information could have been legally acquired and/or independently created-duplicated by others without the knowledge of your former employee.

c. Describe the level(s) of skill, experience and technology that would be necessary to achieve the above.

d. Describe the current location of the contested information (trade secret).
3. You have decided to bring a (the above) lawsuit naming the former employee and their employer (your competitor) as defendants. As you prepare for the upcoming litigation, describe how you will calculate the ($) value (economic benefit) of that contested (proprietary) information to:
a. your company, in terms of competitive advantages it has brought?

b. the competitor, assuming they have-will exploit it?

4. Circle the number that best describes your company's overall program to protect your proprietary-competitive advantage information and trade secrets:

off-the-shelf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 tailored
one size fits all specific to your company
5. In the parlance of information security professionals, the term 'criticality' is used to measure (describe) the effect-impact of a significant security breach or loss, relative to a company's ability to continue normal operations.
a. Describe your company's plan to continue to operate, as normally as possible, if your most valuable proprietary-competitive advantage information and/or trade secret walked out the front door tomorrow.
6. Your company's most successful sales executive is going on an extended business trip to meet with current and prospective customers in the U.S. and several international locations. It's necessary for the executive to carry sensitive company information throughout the trip.
a. Describe the instructions - procedures you will give to this individual insofar as safeguarding 'company information' is concerned, prior to his departure.
7. Employees in the marketing department will be showing your company's newest product at an industry-wide trade show soon. The new product has several significant changes-improvements compared to the previous model, and your competitors'. You believe these changes will deliver significant margins in the coming sales cycle.
a. Describe the instructions - procedures you will give to the marketing department, insofar as new product security/protection is concerned, before these employees depart for the trade show.
8. You asked your attorney, along with each department head, to review how 'non- disclosure, confidentiality' agreements in employment contracts are being used in the company.
a. Are there particular issues-concerns you want them to address?

b. If so, what are they?
9. The Department of Supply Chain Management at a nearby university is hosting a seminar next month in which over 100 representatives of U.S. and international companies and universities are expected to be in attendance. The Department Chair called to ask if you would host a tour of your plant and its distribution facility for the attendees? The Chair also asked if you would conduct a mini-seminar to acquaint attendees with your state-of-the-art supply chain management processes? Before you give the Chair your answers:
a. What questions should you ask?

b. If you agree to the tour, do you intend to make any special internal preparations or impose any restrictions on the attendees prior to the tour?

1. If not, why not?

2. If so, what would they be?

c. If you agree to conduct the mini-seminar, describe what you intend to do to avoid giving away valuable competitive advantage information or trade secrets and still make the presentation interesting and worthwhile?
10. As president and founder of XYZ Company, you were recently informed there is an Internet website titled 'Employees Against The XYZ Company'. Posted on the website are (among other things) photographs of your manufacturing areas and the product distribution facility, several company memorandums which you thought were distributed only to executive staff and photos of your home and the car you drive.
a. Is this a matter that warrants your attention and/or investigation?

b. If not, why?

c. If you decide to investigate this matter further, what aspect would you be inclined to focus on first?

d. Describe the steps you intend to take relative to investigating this matter.
11. How do you expect to be alerted to - know if any of your company's:
a. intellectual property is being (has been) misappropriated or infringed?

b. products are currently being pirated or counterfeited?
12. You have hired a graduate student from a nearby university (with a double major in computer science and market research) to find everything she can about your company through the Internet. The only stipulation is that she use only open-public domain sources. In addition to an hourly salary, you have provided her with a stipend to purchase subscription services and other fees necessary to legally access relevant data and information.
a. Describe things this individual will likely be able to learn-find out about your company.

b. Describe things you hope the researcher will not learn-find.
13. When litigating misappropriation-infringement claims, courts typically want to see specific evidence that a reasonable correlation exists between what your company has done to protect/secure its proprietary information and trade secrets compared to current, real world vulnerabilities and threats?
a. Describe the various types of evidence you produce to demonstrate that a reasonable correlation exists in your company or organization?
14. With respect to those employees in your company who know and/or have access to proprietary-competitive advantage information, trade secrets or other valuable intellectual capital:
a. how would you describe their attitude toward the protection/security of that information?
15. How would you compare (measure) your information protection-security program to:
a. industry peers

b. closest competition
16. On July 1, 2003, Business Daily magazine reported that your company, in which you are the president and principle shareholder, enjoyed a 36% (domestic) market share for widgets that you manufacture and sell. Business Daily also reported that the remainder of the domestic market was shared by six (2 U.S., 1 EU, and 3 Asian) competitors. In August, 2003, two of the 'stronger' competitors sent some of their brightest marketing employees to the FHG & D 'competitor intelligence' school (course). Both competitors had state-of-the-art competitor intelligence units operational by mid-October, 2003. On July 1, 2004, Business Daily reported that your company's market share had fallen to 30%.
a. Insofar as trying to recoup some of the lost market share, is it important (necessary) to know what precipitated/caused the market share loss?

b. If it is, describe how you would try to determine whether or not any or all of the 6% market share loss can be attributed to the sophisticated and aggressive competitor intelligence initiatives undertaken by the two competitors?

c. If you determined that most of the market share loss is attributed to competitor intelligence activities, describe what you should-could do to prevent further erosion of your market share.