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What can companies protect as organizational trade secrets?

What can companies protect as organizational trade secrets?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Intellectual Property |

Businesses have an interest in protecting their intellectual property. There are several kinds of intellectual property, some of which are easier to identify than others. For example, trademarks require careful research and registration, making it very clear what resources have trademark protection. Creative works in a variety of different formats ranging from audio compositions to written works may have copyright protection in many cases.

Businesses rely on trademarks and copyrighted materials to market themselves and develop their brands. They may also have trade secrets, another form of intellectual property, which can help them compete more effectively. What information can a company protect as trade secrets?

Trade secrets are non-public information

A variety of different kinds of business information may constitute trade secrets. There are several basic requirements that information must meet to constitute a trade secret. One of the most important is that the information is not widely available to the public. The second is that the information provides an opportunity for economic advantage specifically because it is not public information. The recipe for a popular ice cream flavor is an example. Consumers purchase the ice cream in part because they cannot duplicate it at home or obtain the same flavor from other manufacturers.

Businesses have an interest in protecting their trade secrets. They might include restrictive covenants in employment contracts or severance agreements, as well as in contracts with vendors and service providers. They may even structure how the company operates in a specific manner so that the average employee does not have access to an entire recipe or chemical formula.

Unfortunately, despite attempts to protect trade secrets, organizations may sometimes face intellectual property violations due to the misconduct of competitors or employees. Even outside businesses with access to information about how a company operates or its facilities could acquire and inappropriately distribute certain trade secrets.

Provided that there is evidence of the misconduct, those who have experienced intellectual property violations may be able to take legal action. The courts can respond to such cases by ordering financial restitution for losses caused by appropriate conduct. A judge might also prevent a business or individual from using or distributing trade secrets. As such, properly responding to intellectual property infringement, including misuse of trade secrets, can help organizations maintain a competitive edge.

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