You have most likely heard of a secret recipe or a business secret, but you might not know that secrets that provide a business with a competitive advantage can be a form of intellectual property that can be protected from others. These secrets are called “trade secrets,” and they are very important business assets.
A trade secret is any device, technique, method, or information that is not generally known, that gives the trade secret holder a competitive advantage in the marketplace, or that has economic value. Trade secrets are typically used to protect intellectual property that is proprietary or sensitive to a business.
In order for a trade secret owner to have trade secret protection, the trade secret holder must take steps to prevent the general public from learning the secret. So long as the secrecy of the trade secret is maintained, trade secret protection can last indefinitely.
Trade secret protection can be applied to many different things that are ineligible for other types of intellectual property protection. Common information that can be protected by trade secret include:
Trade secret law generally falls to the states (although many states, including Arizona and California, have adopted a form of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act), and common law. Trade secret protection provides protection against:
Misappropriation of the trade secret by another. Misappropriation occurs when a trade secret is improperly acquired by someone who is not authorized to know the trade secret.
Theft of intellectual property and trade secrets is not tolerated by the courts. A trade secret holder can request an injunction against the party who misappropriated the trade secret to prevent them from using or disclosing the trade secret, and the trade secret holder can seek damages for any economic loss that resulted from the misappropriation of the trade secret.
A certain piece of information that provides economic benefit can be a boon to your business. It can be what makes your product unique or could be the lifeblood of your business model. You need to take steps to protect your valuable secret from theft by others. A trade secret lawyer can help you develop a plan for protecting your intellectual property, can help you implement that plan, and enforce your rights if someone misappropriates your trade secret.
If you have questions about trade secrets as intellectual property, please contact Parsons & Goltry online, or by calling 480-991-3435.
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