Obtaining Trade Secret Protection
A trade secret is generally defined as any formula, process, design, practice, instrument, pattern, commercial method, or compilation of information that is not widely known or reasonably ascertainable by others. Businesses generally leverage trade secrets to attain a business advantage over their competitors. Some refer to trade secrets simply as “confidential information.”
Confidentiality Agreements/Non-Compete Agreements
Because of its confidential nature, seeking trade secret protection can be difficult. Unlike other intellectual property (IP) such as patents, copyrights, or trademarks, a trade secret cannot be registered. Generally, many forms of intellectual property must be registered or disclosed to the public in order to secure federal protection. By contrast, trade secrets must remain “secret” or confidential in order to remain protectable. If the trade secret is purposely or inadvertently disclosed, it may lose its status as a trade secret.
Trade Secret Confidentiality
When it comes to trade secrets, we can generally advise on using intellectual property law to properly protect a trade secret. For example, many companies are unaware that the duration of a trade secret’s protection does not expire as long as it remains confidential. This is significantly different from the protection afforded to other types of intellectual property.
Moreover, we can assist in completing the necessary steps to ensure protection of a trade secret. Whether a trade secret would be best protected by utilizing non-disclosure agreements or litigation, we can advise on what is needed to keep proprietary information confidential. We can also advise on what protocols and procedures are needed to implement and maintain trade secrets.
Companies often realize too late that lax procedures or a lack of written agreements can jeopardize the availability of legal remedies and protection afforded to a company’s trade secret. We can analyze procedures or confidential information against the factors that courts use to evaluate protection of trade secrets. Some of the additional services we provide are trade secret identification, know-how licensing, due diligence investigations, employee entrance/exit counseling, non-disclosure or non-competition agreements, and employee training policies.