Certain information provides your business with an economic advantage over your competitors. This is especially true when you know the information and your competitors don’t. Since no one else knows this information, it’s a secret that only your business can exploit. Confidential information that provides an economic advantage is known as a trade secret. It’s important for you and your business to protect your trade secrets to prevent others from knowing them. If they did, then your business may lose its advantage in the market.
Types of Trade Secrets That Need Protection
Trade secrets are forms of intellectual property – something you figured out during the course of developing your business that really works and drives sales. The information also includes secret recipes, clever new ways of doing business, new formulas or processes, secret customer lists, or other information that gives your business an edge over the competition. The good news is that if you have a trade secret, you can legally protect this information.
Steps for Protecting Business Trade Secrets
Trade secrets derive value from the fact that very few people know the confidential information. So if you have a trade secret, you need to protect it. A few ways to protect your trade secrets is by:
- Keeping trade secret information on a need-to-know basis (e.g., limiting employee access to trade secret information).
- Marking all confidential and trade secret documents with “Confidential”, “Trade Secret” or “For Your Eyes Only”.
- Requiring employees to sign employment contracts regarding keeping trade secret information confidential.
- Having all trade secret information kept under lock and key (e.g., physically locked up when not in use, or digitally protected by a username and password combination).
- Only permitting authorized employees to access the trade secret information.
- Utilizing non-disclosure agreements with any employee or third party who has access to confidential information.
- Educating employees about protecting trade secrets and the consequences of misappropriation.
Misappropriation of Trade Secret Information
Misappropriation of trade secret information is effectively the theft or accidental disclosure of the trade secret information. When an employee, or third party, steals or discloses the trade secret information, it’s no longer confidential. This decreases a trade secret’s value since everyone now knows the information. If you are a victim of trade secret misappropriation, then you can sue the parties involved. Texas law and federal law provide victims of trade secret misappropriation with legal solutions. Usually, misappropriation is enjoined, meaning a court mandated order to not disclose the trade secret, and in some cases damages – monetary compensation – are awarded.
Need Help With A Trade Secret? Contact A Business Lawyer
Trade secret information has immense value for a business – value you don’t want to let disappear! If you need help understanding what are your trade secrets and what to do to protect them, or if you are concerned that your trade secret information has been misappropriated, contact our experienced business attorneys. For more information, contact the professionals at Walker Law PC today. John H. Walker