Trade Secret Law
Protecting Confidential Business
Information Under Trade Secret Law
Let's say you or someone in your company comes up with
new method of doing business or a
new idea, but it's not yet ready for patent, trademark or copyright
protection. Or maybe it's something you do not want to make
public. So what do you do?
In the U.S., you can get some measure of protection by utilizing Trade
Secret Laws. One of the best examples of using
trade secret law is Coca-Cola. They've protected
the formula used for Coke for decades using trade secret laws.
However, unlike patent, trademark, and copyright
law which are federally protected, trade secret law is based
on state laws. And there can be a great difference with these
laws from state to state.
Trade secrets are defined as proprietary or
confidential information used in a business. The secret must
monetary value or provide some type of competitive
edge. A couple of good examples of trade secrets
would be your customer or supplier lists, your marketing
plans, proprietary formulas and special manufacturing
to qualify for trade secret protection, the idea or business process
has to be treated in a way that your competitors would have to engage in
illegal activities to obtain it.
Most businesses will establish rights to a trade
secret by having outside parties sign agreements that maintain
confidentiality before they're introduced to this secret
business process. Many of you are familiar with
non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements but a quick primer might
be in order.
non-disclosure agreement is used by a business when normal business
operations will expose or reveal important components of
their technology or business methods. These businesses will
force suppliers, venders, sub-contractors, employees, and
even customers to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Unfortunately, a non-disclosure
agreement provides no protection to a company against a competitor who
does not sign these agreements and ends up creating a similar product
or service that is largely identical to yours. The only way
to prevent this is to also file a patent application.
Now if an owner of a particular trade
secret believes that their confidential
information is being used in the marketplace or has been disclosed
publicly, they can sue the offending party and ask for an injunction
to prevent any further losses. Depending upon what
State you're in, these types of cases may
be tried in either state court or federal court and typically
will be based on contract law and tort principles.
And in this situation, it is not unusual to have the party
asking for the injunction to assert other claims such
as unfair competition and misappropriation.
If you have any questions about Trade Secret
Law, don't hesitate to contact us by using the contact form
found on this page or by calling us directly at 1-866-433-2288.
|Patent and Trademark Offices in Florida, Nevada & New York
GOLD & RIZVI, P.A.
The Idea Attorneys®
11575 Heron Bay Blvd. Suite 309
Coral Springs FL, 33076