Protecting your business trade secrets

A trade secret is information that gives a company some type of an edge in business. In order to be considered a trade secret, as explained by the World Intellectual Property Organization, this information must be kept protected. Steps must be taken to safeguard the information to ensure it does not fall into the hands of anyone outside the company who is not authorized to have access to it. A company does not have to register or fill out any paperwork to get protection for a trade secret. It is automatically granted as long as the information is kept confidential.

The protection for these secrets, which can include recipes, formulas, programs, processes, patterns and devices, is granted under state law in the United States, as explained by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Laws may vary, but they usually follow the Uniform Trade Secret Act. In general, they all offer similar details, requirements and safeguards for trade secrets. State courts may also take steps to maintain secrecy, such as ordering damages to be paid by someone who has committed misappropriation, or the release of a secret without permission.

Only unauthorized release of a secret is protected, though. If the person who is the owner releases the information, then all protection is lost. In addition, if it is discovered independently or otherwise released to the public, the protection is invalid. However, if secrecy is maintained, protection for trade secrets has no time limits, like patents and copyrights do. It is, therefore, essential that owners take the proper steps to ensure the information is kept private. 

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