Not all anti-bribery and corruption compliance training topics have a direct impact on front line staff and supervisors, but awareness is still very important. This article will explore three corporate-level topics that every employee should understand: M&As, IPR and lobbying.
Mergers, Acquisitions, Divestitures
These major business deals involve a transfer, takeover or combination of assets and companies that’s continues business functioning. Most people are familiar with the media images of a company closing down, their assets being assimilated and their employees are laid off, but most transactions strive to maximize profits and minimize losses. An acquisition of stock or assets may involve the formation of another entity, partnership or joint venture. SEC and FINRA regulations may require government approval and pre-merger notification filings. FINRA offers the best practices for managing mergers and acquisitions here.
Intellectual Property Rights
Whoever owns a valid patent has the right to prevent others from using their invention or innovation. IPR is a type of exclusive monopoly awarded to an individual or organization, but it is limited to the expiration date and the scope of the patented subject matter. Trademark owners have the exclusive right to identify their goods and services. Trade secret owners can prevent others from stealing their protected information, but cannot stop others from independently getting the same information. One of the most common IPR abuse is when a company tries to enforce an invalid patent to prevent competition, which raises anti-trust concerns.
Corporate lobbying is usually a sensitive topic among think tanks, community organizations, private watch dogs and social change groups. Industry experts recommend that any staff involved in lobbying should take great care in communicating with both internal and external parties. This includes text, email, letter and “off-the record” conversations. Lobbyists must continually avoid ambiguous, misleading or inappropriate dialogue that could suggest illegal conduct, corrupt behavior and anti-competitive deals. Any communication, such as private emails or handwritten notes, may become evidence in a lawsuit.