Does your business understand how to protect a trade secret?

For any business to succeed a variety of things must work together. Depending on the business it is possible that a trade secret will be one of those things. These could take many different forms including:

  • Strategies for advertising.
  • Manufacturing processes.
  • Client lists.
  • Supplier lists.
  • Consumer profiles.
  • Distribution methods.
  • Sales methods.

While many businesses may have these, they not understand what to do if they are infringed. Readers may be surprised to learn that registration is not required for a trade secret infringement to be actionable. This is beneficial to the holder of the trade secret since it means there is no limit on how long it can be protected.

There are several elements that generally need to exist for a trade secret to be protected. The first is that the thing that is protected must actually be secret. That means that it should not be readily accessible or generally known by many people. Next, its value to the business must be because it is not widely known. Last, the business or holder of the trade secret must have taken reasonable steps to make sure the information remains a secret. This might be accomplished via the use of a confidentiality agreement.

When a trade secret is infringed upon the business or trade secret holder might be able to take legal action against the infringing party. A successful lawsuit could be the thing that keeps the business infringed upon, from going under.

Source: World Intellectual Property Organization, "How are Trade Secrets Protected??" Accessed Jan. 14, 2015