Important things to keep in mind about trade secrets

Glenn W. Peterson

If you have a business in California, then you might benefit from understanding more about trade secrets, which can be anything from recipes to devices. In order to have a trade secret, there are some very specific guidelines that you have to follow. Making one misstep could cause you to lose your protection, which is something we at Millstone Peterson & Watts, LLP, do not want to see happen.

There are three keys to a trade secret as stated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The first is that it must always be kept secret. If it becomes publicly known, you lose your protection. It does not matter if someone told others about it or if someone just happened to discover the information, if your trade secret becomes known in any way, it is void. The second key is that the protected information must give you an edge over your competition that leads to an economic advantage. Finally, it must be used in business.

You do not have to file any paperwork or otherwise register a trade secret as you would with a patent. In addition, the protection will last as long as the information is kept secret. Laws regarding trade secrets are found at the federal and state levels. Most laws follow the guidelines in the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

It is essential that you keep the protected information secret. You must take steps to ensure its secrecy. If the information is leaked in any way, even without your permission, you will likely lose the protection. However, information that is spread without permission, called misappropriation, can allow you to sue in court for damages. To find out more information about trade secrets, visit the intellectual property page on our website.