Google’s search algorithm and Coca-Cola’s secret formula have one thing in common—trade secrets! A trade secret protects businesses from unfair competition on the market. You need a trade secret to satisfactorily and uniquely satisfy the needs of your target audience.
However, not every idea makes a trade secret. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the idea should meet some criteria. Do you believe you have a trade secret? Answer these three questions to clear any doubts!
1. Does it have an inherent Economic Value?
A trade secret is an idea used by businesses to produce or deliver unique services. In the process, the entities make economic returns from the idea beyond what the competition is doing.
Often, it takes blood and sweat to create a trade secret. This means a valuable trade secret takes time, money, and human labor to come up with. This gives it the economic value considering all the resources that go in when coming up with one.
Because of this, it’s not uncommon for the owners to want to protect the idea, lest it gets into the hands of people who’ve not sweated for it. Trade secrets give the owners a monopoly of the market and earn more from the idea. So, to qualify your trade secret idea, ask yourself, does it have an inherent economic value?
2. Is it already Known or Easily Discoverable by others?
A trade secret is only one when the right persons know about it. The secret can be known by one or many people at an organization and should never get out to the hands of the wrong people.
The wrong people can be outsiders or insiders who don’t have the right to know about the information. Every party that knows the secret should abide by set internal regulations to prevent possible spilling out of the secret to unauthorized persons.
If the trade secret is already in public, then it doesn’t pass for a trade secret. In addition, if the idea is easy to reverse engineer, it doesn’t fit the criterion of a trade secret. By evaluating your trade secret idea against this criterion, it’s easy to tell if you have a trade secret or not.
3. Are You Willing to Keep the Secret for as long as it takes?
You should have a bigger and deeper reason to keep the trade secret for as long as it takes. This is your source of dominance and authority in the marketplace. Therefore, you not only want to keep it but also come up with measures to safeguard the interest.
So, you want to create rules and regulations to restrict access to your trade secret idea. Without them, it can be tough keeping the trade secret for a long time. However, that’s what you want to avoid.
The idea should have an inherent economic value to know whether you’re willing to keep the trade secret for as long as it takes. This makes the trade secret worthy and easy to protect against all odds. That being said, if the trade secret isn’t an idea you’d want to protect, it’d make it less worthy of being called one.
How are Trade Secrets Protected?
Assuming your trade secret clicks a yes for all the three questions, how should you protect it? Unfortunately, unlike a patent, it’s hard to protect a trade secret through formal registration. That’s why you only want to share the secret with the right people—the ones with no reason to betray you.
Keeping the trade secret within the circle can stand for an unlimited time. However, you should first create stringent rules of engagement to protect the secret when the stakes are high. If you think your trade secret has been leaked or compromised in any way, contact the Law Office of Elliot J. Brown now!