If your company or organization does not have competitive intelligence rules in place or if the rules are filled with lengthy legalese,  please consider  incorporating these  rules that are easy to read and follow:

  1. Do not actively seek to obtain, or gain access to, trade secrets belonging to another company or encourage an employee of another company to do the same on behalf of you.
  2. Do not seek to obtain, or gain access to, competitive information from a third party if you believe that information may have been wrongfully obtained.
  3. Do not misrepresent your identity or employment, or use false pretexts of any kind, to obtain competitor information.
  4. Do not ask a job applicant who works for your competitor for confidential information about their company.
  5. Abide by all applicable confidentiality agreements with current or past employers.
  6. Do not induce or encourage another to violate any confidentiality agreement to which that person is subject.
  7. Do use deductive problem solving to fill-in gaps in competitive information that cannot be found through open-source collection and ethical inquiry.
  8. If you are uncertain about the ethics or legality of a CI undertaking, seek guidance from your supervisor before proceeding.

Bottom Line: No single piece of competitive information, is worth risking your company’s or your reputation.