What are Trade Secrets and How Can You Protect Them?

Protecting Trade Secrets and Confidential Information

Most larger companies, and even some smaller ones, have something called trade secrets. These include confidential information that only the most trusted members of your company are aware of. Most people view trade secrets as the holy grail of their company.

Trade secrets can include all sorts of information such as:

  • Recipes
  • Advertising strategies
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Sales tactics
  • Software content
  • Commercial secrets

These are the things that allow a company to maintain their competitive edge within their industry. When people take it upon themselves to divulge these secrets, companies can lose money, clients – they can even go bankrupt.

That’s why it’s so important that you protect trade secrets.  It’s a good idea to talk to a business attorney in Connecticut. They can help you ensure that you have the proper mechanisms in place to protect your proprietary information.

Why Not Just Patent this Confidential Information?

The first thing a lot of business owners ask is why they shouldn’t just patent their trade secrets. At least that way, they’re registered and if anyone tries to use them, they can be sued. And, when you think about it, this may make sense.

There are many advantages to patenting your private information, such as:

  • They’re registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office for all the world to see
  • You can take legal action if someone steals or attempts to use your information
  • Most people wouldn’t be audacious enough to try to steal someone else’s patent – they know they would be caught

However, it’s not always the best idea to patent your trade secrets. Some of the disadvantages of filing for a patent are:

  • You have to make sure your secret meets certain technical and specific requirements – you don’t want to waste time and money applying for a patent only for it to get shot down.
  • There are people who can take patented information and dissect it in a way that they can recreate it without technically violating the patent laws
  • There is a time limit on patents – after a certain period of time, they become public property

An experienced Connecticut business attorney can discuss the pros and cons of applying for a patent. It will depend on the type of information you seek to protect.

How Can You Protect Your Trade Secrets?

There are ways you can protect your trade secrets without actually going the patent route. Of course, you’re not going to have the same level of protection as you would with the backing of the USPTO. However, these protections off you the security you need without exposing your secret to the world.

Your business lawyer in Connecticut can discuss these options with you at length. It will really depend on the size and nature of your organization as to which option will work best. It also depends on the nature of the information you need to keep confidential.

Some of the ways you can protect your trade secrets internally include:

  • Selectivity – Only share the information with the most senior executive members of your team. Make sure that your contracts with these employees include terms regarding the protection and nondisclosure of trade secrets.
  • Confidentiality Agreements – Everyone who works for your company should have to sign a confidentiality agreement. This includes everyone from the owner to the janitor. And these agreements need to include terms of breach. For example, name a monetary penalty that will be imposed if someone discloses trade secrets.
  • Non-Disclosure Agreements – Everyone who is hired should sign an NDA. It’s important that you do this as soon as they come on board (or even before.) You want to make it abundantly clear that they are not to discuss anything they see, hear, taste, touch or smell while on a tour or orientation of your company.

While these things can help protect your trade secrets, there may come a time when someone steals it anyway. If this happens, your business lawyer can help you file a legal action. Perhaps this will involve an injunction. Or it may involve a suit for money damages.

Contact a Skilled Business Attorney in Connecticut Today

If your company is concerned that you may have a breach or threat of breach when it comes to trade secrets, you need help. You really shouldn’t wait another day to meet with an experienced business attorney in Connecticut.

Let an attorney at Aeton Law Partners review your existing agreements and let you know what changes you need to make. And keep them on standby in case you do have to deal with any cases of theft.

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