Stealing Trade Secrets

Article Published:Mar 20

The on-going problem of trade secret theft seems never-ending to me! But, the real problem lies with South African business owners who seem to think it doesn’t affect them or their company.

As a private investigator whose company specialises in business investigations, I am really concerned at just how many business owners simply ignore the fact that the theft of trade secrets could well be occurring within in their company.

To investigate trade secret theft, one must first understand what your company’s trade secrets are. In a nutshell, its information that gives economic value to your business, eg. chemical recipes, marketing strategies, processes, etc.

This is the lifeblood of a company so, why then the lack of seriousness from business owners/managers to protect this 'pot of gold’? For the most part, I don’t believe there is sufficient legislation to assist businesses in protecting trade secrets. Added to this, countless companies simply don’t place real emphasis on what information their employees have access to or what they are doing with it.

Investigating the theft of trade secrets is a discipline within the investigations sector that can only be handled by a private investigator with a real understanding of trade secret laws and competitive intelligence malpractice tactics.

D&K Investigations & Risk Consultancy advises all our clients to develop an action plan for the organisation to assist with the protection of trade secrets. When a company suspects that its trade secrets may have fallen into the wrong hands, there can be no time wasting! Initiating a full investigation with the aid of a recognised private investigator is your best hope of limiting the potential damage. The private investigator must have sound knowledge of trade secret litigation and, preferably, have an association with an experienced lawyer or law firm with the required experience in handling such cases.

I cannot stress enough just how important it is for all companies to perform regular 'due diligence’ checks on employees, partners and contractors. Again, this is a function that should be outsourced to a firm that has the necessary skills and capabilities to run these checks for you!

D&K Investigations & Risk Consultancy is the leading business and private investigations agency in southern Africa, specialising in investigations of both civil and criminal matters. For more information, visit our website:

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