Intellectual Property Law · Licensing · Technology Innovation

How do you show that information is a trade secret?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2022 | Intellectual Property Law |

Protecting your intellectual property will be crucial to your long-term success when operating a business. From ensuring that other companies don’t rip off your trademark logo to protecting your original creations with copyright registration, there are numerous ways to make use of federal intellectual property protections.

Trade secrets are among the most crucial kinds of intellectual property that businesses have, and they are also among the most misunderstood. You need to know whether certain company information constitutes a trade secret before you attempt to take action against a competitor or a former employee who violated your intellectual property rights.

What makes business information a trade secret?

It must not be easily available to the public

One of the most important aspects of a trade secret is the information is, in fact, a secret. Although the information may be publicly available, such as the names and addresses of businesses, compiling those into a client list based on your previous transactions with your company would make the information a secret as other companies would not know who has done business with your company before.

Recipes, unique manufacturing processes and even specialized training modules could constitute trade secrets because they contain information not readily accessible to the public.

Your company must try to protect the secret

Generally, if you make what was once a secret publicly available on your website, you can’t complain when someone else uses that information to help their company. However, if you lock up, password protect or restrict access to certain business information, you can show that you have tried to protect that secret from use by others.

The secret must impact the company’s financial success

For trade secrets to have protection under federal intellectual property laws, they have to confer some kind of advantage to the business. There is plenty of information about how you operate that is readily available to the public that would not have any financial impact on your company.

On the other hand, information about chemical processes, suppliers and your daily operation could all play a role in your company’s ability to turn a profit for the goods or services that it provides. Once you know conclusively that information is a trade secret, enforcement actions are possible.