Few outside of my hometown of Sheffield will have heard of Henderson’s Relish (Hendo’s to the locals), made to a 136 year old recipe, (yet according to the maitre d at Mildred’s in Soho, London it is finding a new lease of life as a ‘vegan’ sauce!). Only 3 family members know the recipe which has been passed down through the owners since 1885.
It is easy to misunderstand the finer points of intellectual property rights such as trade secrets, but the point is that trade secrets are becoming much more important than ever before. This is in part due to changes in law (governments worried about state sponsored IP theft / hacks); developments in technology (importance of data / algorithms etc); and changes in employment (people moving jobs more frequently).
Recently Ocado reached a settlement with an ex-director accused of stealing trade secrets and confidential information and setting up a competitor 10 years later! Allegedly he was party to details of key customer contracts and future plans for technology developments which afforded him unfair advantage as a competitor.
Henderson’s have a trade secret which provides advantage over competitors and helps keep Sheffield sauce users loyal. There are increasingly frequent cases like Ocado that serve to illustrate the importance and urgency of identifying and managing trade secrets early. You cannot bolt the trade secret door after the horse has bolted!
Henderson’s footnote: Hendo Gate became a case study in the 2014 House of Commons Intellectual Property Bill, when an MP mistakenly accused Hendo’s of passing off as another well known relish, Lea & Perrins! He was quickly rebutted and a social media storm erupted, eventually involving Sheffield celebrities and politicians. Proving that even politicians misunderstand IP, the MP in question Jim Dowd, later toured the Henderson's factory in a peace-making gesture.
IP can be difficult to get your head round and trade secrets demand good consideration, as they could prove to be one of your most important IP rights. Trade secrets cover technical but also non technical and commercial aspects of the business.
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#HendersonsRelish #Sheffield #Ocado #tradesecrets #demystifyingintellectualproperty
Author: John Pryor Exalt IP