Secrets – The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (the “FBI”) has produced a movie – The Company Man – that explains precisely why companies need trade secret protection systems like Hazel.

Hazel FBIThe Company Man: Protecting America’s Trade Secrets – tells the story of a small glass insulation company in Iowa with a novel product that is protected in the form of trade secrets. The company’s product has caught the attention of a foreign government that sends two agents to obtain the information needed to manufacture the product – by whatever means necessary.

The foreign agents have already identified who in the company likely has access to the information that they need. One of the engineers who they target has become frustrated with his career and is facing financial difficulties. He’s approached by the foreign agents and offered a considerable sum for handing the trade secrets over to them. The engineer seriously considers their proposition before his better angels lead him to report the plot to his superiors at the insulation company.

Hazel to the Rescue

The presence of Hazel in the FBI movie would have made the company even safer … and if the engineer featured in the film hadn’t been so moral, Hazel would have served as an irreplaceable substitute for his virtue or lack thereof.

Hazel FBIFirst, the company’s general counsel becomes aware early on in the film that the foreign agents were prowling about to steal information about a particular aspect of the company’s product.  With Hazel, she could have immediately reviewed the company’s records to see who had access to these vital trade secrets and taken appropriate actions.

Second, after the engineer said that he had been approached by foreign agents, the general counsel could have reviewed the Hazel data and issued specific advice and counsel to all the company’s other employees with access to this vital set of trade secrets.

Third, the company’s CEO in the film at first refuses to cooperate with the FBI out of fear that the trade secrets might be leaked in a subsequent trial of the foreign agents. If the company had Hazel, then it could have easily parsed the trade secrets into pieces such that the tantalizing bits shown the foreign agents prior to their arrest by the FBI agents wouldn’t have provided them with the complete picture of the company’s vital trade secrets.

Your Company Has More Than One Key Trade Secret

The Company Man portrays a company that has only one key trade secret.  While this scenario may simplify the storytelling for a film, the real-life situation for most companies is that they have more than one key trade secret – they have many of them.

The even scarier situation for many companies is that they have only the vaguest idea about what their trade secrets are – never having enrolled any of them in any sort of system – in the absence of Hazel a company’s “trade secrets” comprises a tiny set of information known to the institutional memory of a tiny handful of executives.

Of course, Hazel solves this problem by allowing companies to enroll all the trade secrets that they would like to track.

Watch The Company Man Here:

Here’s an interview about The Company Man with Randy Coleman, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, who is in charge of efforts to thwart the theft of trade secrets.

Hazel Helps Companies Watch Their Trade Secrets

FBI agents have commented that they are sometimes surprised that companies dismiss their employees too quickly once they suspect an employee of having nicked a trade secret.

By contrast, FBI agents sometimes recommend that companies put the employee under surveillance so that the full scope of the employee’s actions can be tracked and understood.

Hazel can support such monitoring activities, and Hazel can be used to limit the damage when a company becomes attacked by trade secret thieves.

Hazel Helps Companies Identify Rank & Protect Their Trade Secrets

The Hazel Trade Secret Asset Management System helps companies manage their trade secrets and trade secret processes. Hazel can keep track of corporate trade secrets and help you determine an appropriate level of protection for each trade secret recorded. Hazel can record who in an organization is responsible for a given trade secret, who is responsible for protecting the trade secret, and who has access to the trade secret, among other things. Hazel can also help your company keep track of trade secrets that it has obtained from third parties by agreement so that you can fulfill your obligations to that party. Hazel can also help with various corporate functions such as a tax and human resources. Contact the Hazel Team today to learn more.

For Secrets, I’m Tom Ewing.


Thomas Ewing is a commercial lawyer, registered patent attorney, and intellectual property counselor with more than 25 years of experience in the IP field.  In his consulting practice, Tom routinely advises international organizations, government agencies, universities, law firms, multinational corporations and financial institutions. Tom has been recognized as one of the world’s 250 best IP strategists by IAM Magazine in every edition of its IAM 250 since the list’s inception in 2009.