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Trade secrets: What are they, and how can you protect them?

Trade secrets: What are they, and how can you protect them?

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2021 | Intellectual Property |

What is the lifeblood of your commercial enterprise?

Top-tier management teams in businesses across Texas, California, Colorado and other states where commercial activity prominently flourishes closely ponder that question all the time.

Is it a cadre of dynamic and forward-thinking leaders who deal effectively with industry challenges and consistently take optimal advantage of business opportunities? Is it a stellar and loyal workforce that routinely drives company profitability? Is it central placement in a commercial sphere poised to lead the nation’s economy well into the future?

It is likely the case for company principals that all those factors are critically important and operate interactively. Business executives and able managers focus constantly on myriad and evolving matters that go to the very heart of enterprise productivity.

Intellectual property interests: incalculably valuable company assets

One thing that key decision makers in many companies focus unremittingly and acutely upon is intellectual property. As one authoritative national legal source on business law stresses, so-called IP interests “are among the most significant assets of businesses.”

Trade secrets: overview of what they are and how to safeguard them

The term “trade secret” is often cited in reference to intellectual property. It offers up a number of definitions, which routinely coalesce around this basic point: Information is likely a trade secret if a company deems it commercially viable, closely guards against its disclosure and takes reasonable steps to keep it private.

Examples abound, with a trade secret encompassing many possibilities. It could be a proprietary company process or manufacturing schematic. Algorithms and software qualify. So too do recipes, customer lists, business plans and a host of other possibilities.

A bottom-line judicial takeaway concerning trade secrets is that, while a court is willing to safeguard them, it will first want to see evidence that a company has been serious in its efforts to keep them private. An in-depth legal overview of trade secrets notes that “a company is expected to take reasonable precautions to help secure information secrecy,” including these:

  • Systematic internal identification of all info/data deemed secret
  • Prominent labeling scheme for all trade secrets (e.g., “confidential” and with carefully controlled circulation)
  • Established security protocols regarding computers, passwords, info right of access and so forth
  • “strict confidentiality provisions” in all instances where a secret is shared with an outside party like a vendor, supplier or business partner
  • Comprehensive and tailored employee training, coupled with executed agreements such as noncompetes and non-disclosure pacts

The trade secret realm can understandably be complex and of overriding importance. Business managers can direct questions or concerns to a deep and proven legal team of intellectual property attorneys.