Austin TX Business Law Blog

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

What Is a Trade Secret?

We put so much into developing our businesses. We design products, systems, and specialties to help our businesses grow, succeed, and to set ourselves apart from the competition. With so much time and money that is invested into the development and fine tuning of so many aspects of our businesses, it can be very stressful to consider the possibility of our closely held secrets falling into the hands of competitors or potential competitors. Is there protection available out there to guard against this sort of thing? Trade secret protection might fit the bill.

What is a Trade Secret?

In intellectual property protection law, patents offer strong protections for those with proprietary inventions. There are, however, limits to patent protection. For instance, patents do not last forever. In fact, they only last for twenty years. Furthermore, applying for a patent requires disclosing the invention itself which could, obviously, make many people uncomfortable to do so.

On the other hand, trade secret protection lasts forever and there is no need to disclose the secret itself as it is, of course, a “secret.” It is difficult to pin down a precise definition as to what a trade secret is mainly due to the fact that trade secrecy law developed in so many different places and at the federal and state level. There are, however, some consistencies across trade secret definitions developed in various places. For instance, a trade secret is a part of a company that is not known or readily accessible by competitors. It is also something that has commercial value or provides the company with a competitive advantage within its marketplace. The trade secret is protected from disclosure through reasonable efforts aimed at maintaining its secrecy. All of these elements must be met in order for a trade secret to exist and be eligible for protection. Should any of these elements be absence, then the trade secret does not exist or ceases to exist.

It is more common than not for a company to have trade secrets. This is due, in part, to the fact that there is a broad range of things eligible for trade secret protection. It covers a broad range of subject matter, including those pieces of information that would otherwise be ineligible for patent, trademark, or copyright protection. Because of this broad range, trade secrets are becoming even more popular as a kind of intellectual property protection. Additionally, it does not necessitate exposing the secret through a patent application or going through the uncertainty of the patent application process. There is no time limit to the protection of a trade secret and, so long as the essential element continue to be met, the protection will endure. One of the main difficulties with a trade secret, however, is that it requires constant vigilance to maintain secrecy.

Business Law Attorney

While many businesses have trade secrets, it is not uncommon for owners to not even be aware of them or the available protection they could access. Talk to the knowledgeable team at The Kumar Law Firm about what aspects of your business may be eligible for trade secret protection and develop a plan to keep these trade secrets secure. Contact us today.

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