Trade Secrets

Managing and protecting your closely-guarded trade secrets

IP protection for trade secrets

Businesses are increasingly aware of the value of intellectual property rights. Alongside registered forms of IP like patents, trade marks and designs, one lesser known asset that can help to strengthen your market position is the protection of trade secrets.

With trade secret laws having been updated in many jurisdictions — thanks to people switching jobs more often and technological advances that affect the way we store information — protecting trade secrets has never been more valuable.

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The importance of protecting your trade secrets

In contrast to many other forms of IP (such as patents) trade secrets cannot be registered. Instead, the question of whether a trade secret exists or not is decided by the courts, when an action is brought for misappropriation.

In many jurisdictions, the court’s trade secret assessment involves identifying whether reasonable steps were taken to maintain the secrecy of the information. This is one area where businesses can strengthen their position by ensuring that their systems effectively record and manage trade secrets.

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Our experience with trade secret protection

We can work with you to help you manage and document your trade secrets. This may include assessing the systems that you currently have in place and suggesting further steps that you could take to improve your position, for instance setting up or enhancing databases in which your trade secrets are stored and categorised according to their key features, training your people to understand the importance of protecting trade secrets and reviewing the precautions that are in place to make sure that individual trade secrets remain protected.

Talk to our specialist trade secrets team today to find out more.

FAQs

What is a trade secret?

A trade secret is information that has economic value to its owner and which is not known to the public. It must be kept confidential for it to remain valuable. Examples of trade secrets include recipes, formulas, manufacturing processes and customer lists.

What is the best way to protect trade secrets?

The best way to protect trade secrets is to keep them confidential by taking physical precautions such as using password-protected databases or locking filing cabinets, and also legally protecting them by using a non-disclosure agreement. Additionally, it is vital to monitor who has access to the information and to ensure that anyone with access is aware of their obligations not to disclose the secret. Finally, it is essential to keep records of when and how the trade secret was acquired, as this could be used in any legal proceedings regarding its misuse

What are the benefits of trade secret protection?

The main benefit of trade secret protection is that it can provide indefinite protection for valuable information without having to go through the expensive and time-consuming process of obtaining a patent. Additionally, trade secrets can be licensed to other parties for a fee or other consideration, which can be an important source of revenue for the company. Finally, trade secret protection allows companies to keep their competitive edge by preventing others from gaining access to valuable information.

See more trade secret FAQs

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