Trade secrets and protections for small business

Glenn W. Peterson

Entrepreneurs of entities large and small in California know that one of the key elements to success with their business operations may lie in the form of something unique to them that they do not want anyone outside of their organizations to know about. These may often be referred to as trade secrets and protecting them is something every small business should know how to do.

As explained by the U.S. Small Business Administration, one of the key things that business owners and managers should do is to educate their employees about the trade secrets and how to keep them secure. Clear and effective communication to all who have access to the information is a must lest someone inadvertantly disclose something they should not.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office clarifies that a trade secret may encompass a variety of things that provide a business with a clear advantage over its competitors so long as the competitors do not have access to the secret information. This might include a method for creating something, a way of building a workspace or factory, a formula or a recipe, a device, a pattern or more. Basically a trade secret may cover how something is done as well as what results.

Taking action when a trade secret has been incorrectly disclosed or discovered is important in part because the actual protection is lost at that point. This is because what was once a secret is no longer a secret even if that change happened by inappropriate means.