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A look at trade secrets and how to protect them

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Business & Complex Civil Litigation

Trade secrets are the lifeblood of a business. They give your company a competitive edge, but only when you take steps to protect them. Understanding and safeguarding these secrets can be the difference between thriving and struggling in today’s competitive business landscape.

What are your trade secrets?

Trade secrets can be anything that is not generally known to the public, provides economic benefit to its holder and is the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. Here are a few examples:

  1. Customer lists: Detailed customer lists, which might include preferences and needs.
  2. Business methods: Unique methods of operations or sales strategies.
  3. Recipes or formulas: A secret recipe or formula for a signature offering.
  4. Software: Proprietary software developed for internal use.
  5. Manufacturing techniques: Unique, efficient manufacturing processes.

These and other technical, commercial and financial elements can be the very things that set you apart from your competitors, thereby making them crucial to protect.

Common mistakes with trade secrets

Despite their importance, many businesses make mistakes regarding their trade secrets. Some common ways business owners fail to secure trade secrets include:

  1. Not identifying trade secrets: Many businesses fail to identify their trade secrets, making it difficult to protect them from theft or disclosure.
  2. Inadequate protection measures: Simply locking a document in a drawer may not be enough. Businesses need to implement robust security measures to provide reasonable protection.
  3. Lack of employee training: Employees might unknowingly leak trade secrets. Regular training can help prevent this.
  4. No non-disclosure agreements: NDAs (or other confidentiality agreements) can be appropriate for anyone with access to the trade secrets.
  5. Not regularly auditing trade secrets: Regular audits can help ensure ongoing protection and identify any potential leaks.

Trade secrets are vital to a business’s success. However, they can only provide a competitive edge if businesses take steps to protect them and keep them private. If there may be gaps or questions, seeking legal guidance can be vital. Remember, your trade secrets are your business’s hidden assets. Protect them well.