What Is A Trade Secret?

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A trade secret is an information that has independent economic value because it is not generally known to the public or to your competitors. The other part of it is that there were reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. If you put your trade secret on your website, it has lost the status of a trade secret. Trade secrets are a form of intellectual property, much like a patent, a copyright, or a trademark. A trade secret is when companies do not want to disclose information because after a pattern expires, the information on a patent is part of the public domain and anyone can use it. The best example of a trade secret would be the formula for Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola could have applied for a patent for its formula but then, the information would have been available to everyone when it expired. Instead, Coca-Cola keeps the recipe for its product under lock and key and it is protected, as a trade secret.

What Types Of Information Can A Trade Secret Protect?

Trade secrets can protect almost any kind of information, provided that it has some economic value and that it is protected by the person who claims ownership to the trade secret. Examples would include advertising strategies, business methods, engineering drawings, blueprints, cost information, customer lists, ideas for inventions, or manufacturing processes. If you do a lot of research to try to create something and through your research, you find out what does not work, that could be a trade secret. Your competitors would have to go through the same process of trying to get the information. Product designs are trade secrets, as is technical know-how.

How Is A Trade Secret Protected?

The way you protect your trade secret is by keeping it confidential and making sure it is not disclosed to anyone who does not have a need to have access to it. One of the first steps you need to take is being able to identify what your trade secret is. Then, if you have employees, make sure that your employees sign a confidentiality agreement acknowledging the existence of certain information that would be trade secrets and their obligation not to disclose it. You should also set up a system within your company to make sure that it is protected. You might mark certain information as trade secret with a confidentiality stamp. You would limit access to the trade secret to people or employees only as needed, and you would keep the information locked up in a filing cabinet or a computer that is password protected.

How Long Does The Trade Secret Protection Last?

A trade secret, as long as you keep it confidential, does not expire.

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