In Malaysia, many manufacturing companies are becoming more enlightened and more aware of patent rights, trade secrets and the importance of safeguarding trade secrets against inadvertent disclosure to third parties or strangers visiting the production facilities.
Many of our clients who are product manufacturers have established standard operating procedures (SOPs) in respect of the manner of receiving visitors to their factory sites, in the interest of safeguarding their intellectual property rights.
Generally visitors are first received at a visitor gate where particulars of the visitor are recorded. Any cameras or smartphones with cameras are requested to be surrendered at the gate.
The person who is authorized to receive the visitor is requested to come to the visitor gate to accompany the visitor to a meeting room in the factory complex, which is often located at the entrance to the building. The designated meeting room is bare, with no process flow charts, factory layout plans, staff memos/notes, prototypes, or samples of products or components made in the factory displayed in the room.
All discussions are held in the meeting room. The visitor is taken to a particular site on the production floor only on a need-to-visit basis as decided by the company executive. If a decision has been made earlier, before the intended visit, other areas along the passage to the site are temporarily screened off, such that machinery, equipment and fittings are not visible to the visitor.
In some factories, the production area is enclosed within transparent glass walls, such that the visitor can see the production process from a distance but has no proximate access to the machinery and equipment.
Manufacturing companies are beginning to be more careful about information leaks to visitors who can gather valuable and sensitive information about the manufacturing process, machinery and equipment used by merely having sight of the facilities on the production floor.
Yet companies which are not aware on the importance or relevance of patent rights and trade secrets subsisting in the production facilities and production process generally do not have stringent safeguards against information leaks during site visits by third parties.
Stringent safeguards are much needed and SOPs should be put in place by manufacturers. Otherwise, their trade secrets and confidential information which is key to their company staying ahead of competitors will be in the public domain!
Kandiah is the Founder and Director of KASS International, an established intellectual property firm with offices in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Mr. Kandiah has vast experience in obtaining patents, trademarks and industrial design rights on a global scale, and also specializes in identifying patentable inventions, designing around patented technology, and advising on the commercialization of IP Rights, franchising and licensing strategies. For more information, visit www.kass.com.my or drop an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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