Cola caper shows need for screening

ATLANTA -- It wasn't locked up in a bank vault like the recipe for its flagship soda brand.

Instead, prosecutors say a new product sample at the heart of a corporate espionage case that erupted this week at The Coca-Cola Co. was accessible to a secretary.

The episode has made Coke re-evaluate its safeguards for protecting trade secrets, and other corporations ask whether they should do the same -- even as the secretary's lawyer wonders what all the fuss is about.

Experts say the important thing is to have tough employee screening and to catalog what secrets you don't want others to know.

Stealing trade secrets is not uncommon in a competitive corporate culture where heavy premiums are placed on bringing an innovative new product or device or technology to the market first.

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