Maintaining a competitive edge often means finding a different way of doing things than others in your industry. What sets your business apart from competition might be a trade secret.
If you have a recipe, a carefully curated customer list or other information that gives your business an advantage, that information could constitute a trade secret and therefore have protection under federal intellectual property laws.
Trade secrets come in many forms
If you believe that your company’s proprietary process or internal records give you a financial edge and would benefit anyone else who is able to discover that information, you want to protect that information as a way of protecting your company’s profitability.
Not only do you want to keep your trade secrets inaccessible to the public or competitors, but you also need to enforce your rights if someone accesses and misuses your trade secrets. To do that, you first have to actively protect them.
The definition of trade secrets requires that you restrict access to the information
Technically, any unique information that gives your business an economic or competitive edge could constitute a trade secret. However, to qualify for trade secret protection, your company has to actively work to protect that secret from access by others.
Methods of protecting trade secrets include having employees sign non-compete or non-disclosure agreements, not disclosing the full secret to any one employee and storing the information in a secure location.
If you believe that another company has inappropriately gained access to your trade secrets, you may need to take action quickly to protect the information and your company’s profit margin. It’s wise to seek legal guidance.