What are trade secrets? Do trade secrets apply to me?
You are probably collaborating with a range of different organisations. Such collaborations are well known as times during which valuable intellectual property assets are inadvertently shared and sometimes lost.
Trade secrets are a little understood intellectual property right, that are however potentially very powerful and especially so for a business like yours. From a legislation perspective trade secrets law has been revamped significantly over the last six years and this illustrates the importance that government organisations place on this valuable intellectual property right.
Please follow links to recent articles increased importance of trade secrets and in collaboration and in small business and a review of trade secret litigation in 2021.
Know-how is much better protected through a trade secrets programme, because the law allows for it to be better defended in this structure. This is not a complicated process and it does not involve registration costs with the PTOs; but it does involve some legwork from within the company and maybe with some external support.
Businesses generally find having executed a trade secrets programme that they are in a much better position the judge what they can and cannot share in collaborations and partnerships, but most importantly key employees are also aware of that knowledge and have an understanding. As a result trade secrets are much more likely to be retained as secrets and within the business, but if they have been shared under strict guidelines then there is legal recourse should there be any subsequent breach, and this is key.
Trade secrets can cover both inventive and also commercially valuable information; this means they can protect inventions but they can also protect your customer list, pricing, email addresses etc.
There is also an interesting interplay between trade secrets and patents: all patents potentially start out as ‘trade secrets’, some part of the invention may be patented and hence made public, another part might be maintained a secret. Of course, if an innovation can be independently invented by somebody skilled in the art and within the near future then you are much better off at protecting your innovation with patents.
Recommended Trade Secrets Programme
My 9 minutes summary of trade secrets on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Mifh9F5_BPI
Get in touch to learn how trade secrets can drive value in your business
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Author: John Pryor Exalt IP