Trade Secret

Trade secrets are secrets that have independent value derived from the fact that they are secret, and for which adequate precautions have been taken to maintain the secrecy of the trade secret. A wide variety of information can be protected through trade secret, including many critical assets which cannot be protected through patent protection or copyright protection. Some of the most famous trade secrets are recipes which have been protected for approximately 100 years.

Trade secrets are protected by state laws which vary from state to state as well as the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act. It is crucial to identify information that is more suited to protection as a trade secret than by patent prosecution, and to take the proper steps to protect information that provides your competitive advantage. Failure to take the necessary steps can result in your competitors benefiting from valuable knowledge that you developed through your investment of time and expense.

The decision of whether to protect valuable technology through patent protection or through trade secret protection must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Trade secret protection does not prevent independent discovery of the trade secret by your competitors, or reverse engineering of your products. If you need the best possible protection, and are willing to limit the term of protection to the 20-year (from application filing date) term of a patent, then you should not rely on trade secret protection. However, if your technology would be difficult to reverse engineer, and if you need protection beyond the 20-year term of a patent, then trade secret protection should be considered.

Protecting trade secrets requires careful diligence to maintain the secrecy of the secret. Trade secrets should be formally designated as trade secrets. Physical copies of the information should be protected by physical security. Electronic copies of the information should be protected by electronic security. The trade secret should be disclosed only to those individuals who need to know the information. Only that portion of the trade secret which is needed by a particular individual should be disclosed to that individual. Anyone with access to any portion of the trade secret should be under a contractual obligation to keep the information secret.

I have the necessary experience to assist in the decision between patent protection and trade secret protection. Once a decision to utilize trade secret protection is made, I have the experience to ensure your trade secrets are properly guarded, and to assist you with trade secret litigation if necessary to protect your business from trade secret infringement.