There are various different reasons why organizations need to archive their emails nowadays. Emails can contain valuable intellectual property that needs to be protected against loss. Intellectual property, a set of ideas, inventions, and designs, is the thing which gives your business value. For example, Google’s intellectual property is the secrets of their search algorithm.
The term intellectual property can include intangible property such as patents, trademarks and copyrights. These are registered in government coffers, where the government is responsible for enlisting such properties. If we take, for example, the case of a new sorting algorithm or a new chip design, those detailed design documents become a matter of public record where details of that invention will be noted so that someone cannot steal or copy it. In the case that these are stolen or copied, the rights holder can claim infringement.
But trade secrets take on many different formats, such as emails and documents attached to emails. Regardless of what system you use for messages, Exchange or Zimbra, they contain the complete chronological history of the development of your product from conception, to its release, all the way to its revision.
The importance of a reliable archive
Technologies have changed a lot over the years. As a result of this, these documents have been stored in different repositories over the years. Originally, it was stored in shared drives. Following this it was stored in Lotus Notes, then SharePoint. Data should be migrated as a company switches from one platform to another. However, there is the risk that the document or email you wrote 7 years ago and saved on a shared mount point on the LAN could, accidently, go missing. There lies the importance for a reliable system. In addition to this, losing archived documents and their attachments could potentially subject the company to significant regulatory and legal risk.
Legislation related to document retention
The government has specific requirements for document retention. These requirements exist in the EU but are stricter in the US.
As a consequence of the Enron bankruptcy, the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) act was passed. This was so companies could document the accuracy of their financial statements. In terms of health care, reform came in the shape of the Health Insurance and Patiently Portability Act (HIPPA).
As a result of the recent Recession and the collapse of Lehman brothers came Franks-Dodds, which is an update to Gramm-leach-Bliley.
The reasoning behind all of this legislation is to make it obligatory for companies to keep electronic records so that they can produce them in the case of litigation, accusations of fraud or whatever dispute a company has with stockholders, stakeholders, or regulators. If you happen to be accused of tampering with any electronic records, it is possible you could face jail time of up to 20 years. Sox record retention requirements is 5 years, for HIPAA it is 6. However, to avoid breaking litigation legislation, it is best to keep a permanent archive.
Protection of intellectual property
You should not only protect the blueprint for a product that needs protection, you should also protect its evolution. In the case of your company bringing action against a competitor for patent infringement or copyright violations, you will require email to document the trail that led to the development of this product. The emails between executives, customers and vendors will help the attorneys make the case that the competitor is profiting through another’s intellectual property.
From discovery to e-discovery
E-discovery is the new phrase that has replaced what attorneys used to call discovery. Archive is becoming more and more crucial. Failure to maintain an archive could constitute a breach of regulations or even result in contempt of court.
There are a number of different archive email systems. One method is the copying of PST and NSF data files to long term storage, then the importing of this data back online when you are looking for something from a few months or a few years ago. The drawbacks to this method is that it can prove inflexible and quite awkward. This method is comparable to exporting an Oracle database to archive format and then importing it back when you are looking for something that is offline.
A superior method of archive email is to sort it in a manner that appears to be not offline at all to the user. This is precisely what an archive email cloud vendor does. The benefit of this kind of configuration is that it lets users search the archive and retrieve documents into the active email folders. Using a cloud email archiving system such as ArcTitan will automatically put you in compliance with the rules for off-site, secure, and tamperproof archives.
Benefits to keeping a protected archive
- Your company may need the documents kept in the archive in the case of lawsuits. For example unlawful dismissal, product liability, criminal complaints.
- The archive is also vital in the case of vendor or contract disputes and issues surrounding product warranties. These are almost always found in emails, e.g. invoices, scanned contracts, and agreements.
- The archive is also important if your company were to lose the technical details of how to do something today that may have been done 5 years ago, when the employee who designed that was still a part of the company.
In summary, there is a wide array of reasons showing that organizations need to archive emails. Therefore you should aim to reduce risk to your business by putting your email archive in the secure cloud with a company that focuses on that such as ArcTitan.