Does your business thrive and/or operate optimally against your competitors due to a secret formula, technique, or device that no one else has? Then your business likely uses what is called a trade secret. You do not need to file a trade secret with any government organization to have one or use it.

All your business needs to have a trade secret is commercially valuable information that is only valuable because of its confidential nature. It can only be considered confidential if it is known by a few people in your company. If you’re worried about your business’s trade secret(s) being released, contact the trade secret IP attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett for more information on how you can protect your IP.

Foreign Trade Secrets Lawyer

What Can Trade Secrets Protect?

If you’re unsure of whether or not your business’s confidential information counts as a trade secret, we can explain. A trade secret can only be three types of information.

  • Formula: Any list of ingredients or mathematical equation expressed through symbols that produces a substance or allows for a process to occur.
  • Technique: A tactic or way of completing a task.
  • Device: A piece of technology that allows for the creation of something else or functions to complete a task.

These three types of information generally include all things that a business could want to keep as a trade secret. The only thing that cannot be trade secrets are processes that are known by a wide large number of people. This does not mean the majority, but a large number.

For example, if a manufacturing process is used by every business in an industry, it is not a trade secret, even though the majority of people alive don’t understand how it works.

How Long Do Trade Secrets Last?

Trade secrets will last as long as the business can keep its formula, technique, or device a secret. They do not expire or have a term limit like other forms of intellectual property protection. This means you have legal rights to a trade secret for as long as you can protect it.

This does mean that if someone releases your trade secret and you are unable to contain its spread, it’s no longer a trade secret. You do have options to keep this from happening and legal responses to those who try to release your trade secret successfully and unsuccessfully.

How Can You Protect Your Business’s Trade Secrets?

There are several ways you can protect your trade secrets from those who do and don’t need to see them. For employees and contractors who do not need to see your trade secrets but need access to your facilities, you can:

  • Lock sensitive electronic information behind password protections.
  • Physically locking tools and items used with your trade secret behind locked doors and cabinets.
  • Labeling and identifying confidential information, with clear instructions on who has clearance to view them.
  • Restricting public access to your places of business.

For employees and contractors who need access to your trade secret, or even just portions of it, you can:

  • Have employees and contractors sign confidentiality agreements. You can also have them sign non-compete agreements to keep from going to competitors, but this is difficult to legally enforce. Also, working with a competitor does not mean they will risk legal liability by exposing your trade secret, especially if they signed a confidentiality agreement.
  • Change the login credentials once an employee quits, is let go, retires, or is otherwise terminated from their position.
  • Monitor who is accessing and using data from or related to your trade secret.
  • Hosting required employee training for how to handle and keep trade secrets confidential.

What If Someone Releases Your Trade Secret?

The first thing you should do if someone tries to release your trade secret is to request an injunction through an attorney. An injunction is a court order for a leaker to stop spreading your trade secret. Depending on the damages, your trade secret may or may not retain its legal protection anymore.

Regardless, you can file a lawsuit for damages against them, financially punishing them for revealing it. You can file a lawsuit against anyone who tries to use your leaked trade secret as well, claiming the formula, technique, or device was illegally gained and a trade secret.

Our trade secret IP attorneys can argue in court that it should still be considered a trade secret and that you are owed legal protections for it.

Contact the Trade Secret Attorneys at ETB Law

Many ways you can fight back against IP infringement and prevent infringement necessitate the assistance of experienced attorneys. Trade secrets also only have protections under United States law if you are based in the U.S. If you are trying to spread out to other countries or are a foreign country seeking to expand to the U.S., you need IP attorneys with international experience and reach.

Emerson Thomson Bennett has legal connections and partnerships with law firms in countries all over the world. For experienced and far-reaching legal help, you can count on our law firm. Contact us today.

John Skeriotis

Partner – Litigation Practice Chair

John Skeriotis

Areas of Practice

Intellectual Property, Patent, Trademarks, Copyright, Internet Law, Litigation, Licensing

Email
jms@etblaw.com
Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson

Jarrett Wyatt

Associate

Jarrett Wyatt

Areas of Practice

Intellectual Property Litigation, Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights

Email
jew@etblaw.com

Phone:

330-434-9999

Fax:

330-434-8888

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