A trade secret is a confidential information that provides your business with a competitive dominance over other businesses in the same industry. A trade secret is an information with economic value. Often the term “proprietary” is used because the secret has exclusive ownership rights. If information is considered a trade secret, it needs effort to be kept as such. If there is no effort in keeping the information as secret, there is no reason for a company to complain if theft of trade secrets occurs.
Formulas, patterns, devices, methods, programs, applications, and processes are just a few examples of trade secrets. For example, the recipe for a soda drink is a trade secret; the company that produces the soda drink is keeping the secret because they don’t want a competitive company to have it.
Trade secrets must be protected by intellectual property or unfair competition laws. An experienced attorney that deals with company trade secrets can be a valuable asset in protecting your company.
Which is Better – Trade Secrets or Patents?
Trade secrets include information that meets the eligibility requirements for patent protection and information that doesn’t.
There are pros and cons to keeping your information a trade secret. Some people prefer to seek patent protection instead of keeping their information as a trade secret.
If you have a dilemma whether you should define your information as a trade secret or get patent protection, keep in mind that the patent protection is not forever. It has a time limit, compared to trade secrets that are not time-limited (as long as they are kept from the public).
Trade secret protection doesn’t need compliance with any special formalities. Patents must be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), so they can be protected.
If you want to keep an invention as a trade secret instead of protecting it with a patent, you should have in mind that it can be reverse-engineered. This means your invention can be easily inspected and analyzed and re-created for commercial gain.
Trade secret protection is more difficult to implement than a patent. If another person is able to learn about your trade secret by legal means, they will not think twice before patenting it.
How to Protect Against the Theft of Trade Secrets
First of all, you need to see if your trade secret is eligible for patent protection. If it is, make a list of all the pros and cons that come with patent protection. Make sure only a few people know the secret and that these people are confidential.
They should sign confidentiality or non-closure agreements. If you collaborate with business partners, make sure they sign confidentiality agreements as well.
If your trade secrets are stolen, it can seriously affect your business. It is never easy to see that a confident person “sold” your trade secret to another company. It is a form of betrayal, and the smartest thing you can do is contact a trade secrets attorney who has experience with such cases.
The Process of Protecting Your Trade Secrets
The protection of trade secrets is not only a one-time action. This is a continuous process that should be maintained. The best protection is constant vigilance, a good business law firm in Connecticut can help with this.
Here are the steps you should take to protect your trade secrets
- Identify the business information that is trade secrets. Mark this info as “confidential.”
- Make a list of the crucial positions in your company and the confidential information they can know of.
- Even if the trade secret is known to a few people, control the access to the secrets.
- Your confidential people must sign confidential agreements (or non-disclosure agreements).
- Educate your employees about dealing with your company’s trade secrets to keep them safe.
- Educate yourself on what to do if something is stolen.
- Have a confidential lawyer who will be available to you if a trade secret is stolen.
If your trade secrets are stolen, the first thing you should do is to call your attorney. They will get you an injunction (this is a court order for someone to stop doing something. This is called “injunctive relief”- it will relieve or reduce the damage to your business from the theft of trade secrets. You can have a temporary injunction while the legal process is going forward. But, it can be permanent as well, it depends on the circumstances. If you have limited the damage with an injunction, you and your attorney can begin legal actions against the theft.
Contact Aeton Law Partners and schedule your consultation with an experienced Connecticut trade secret attorney today.