How to protect algorithms as intellectual property

Algorithms can now be considered trade secrets or even patent-worthy. Prevent them from being stolen by taking these security steps.

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Ogilvy is in the midst of a project that converges robotic process automation and Microsoft Vision AI to solve a unique business problem for the advertising, marketing and PR firm. Yuri Aguiar is already thinking about how he will protect the resulting algorithms and processes from theft.

“I doubt it is patent material, but it does give us a competitive edge and reduces our time-to-market significantly,” says Aguiar, chief innovation and transformation officer. “I look at algorithms as modern software modules. If they manage proprietary work, they should be protected as such.”

Intellectual property theft has become a top concern of global enterprises. As of February 2020, the FBI had about 1,000 investigations involving China alone for attempted theft of US-based technology spanning just about every industry. It’s not just nation-states who look to steal IP; competitors, employees and partners are often culprits, too.

Security teams routinely take steps to protect intellectual property like software, engineering designs, and marketing plans. But how do you protect IP when it's an algorithm and not a document or database? Proprietary analytics are becoming an important differentiator as companies implement digital transformation projects. Luckily, laws are changing to include algorithms among the IP that can be legally protected.

Patent and classify algorithms as trade secrets

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