Once a third party develops an innovation on its own, the trade secret protection that another company has is lost forever. The reason: Even though a company may have gone to great lengths to protect proprietary information, it is obviously no longer a secret if someone else develops it without outside help.
However, most cases of trade secret infringement today are “inside jobs,” with information being disclosed by employees, vendors and consultants. For example, Apple Computer Inc. filed suit against an employee who posted information on the Internet about unreleased products.
Trade secrets have been defined as information that has independent economic value because it is not generally known to the public or to people who can obtain economic value from its disclosure.
A trade secret can include a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process. In order to receive protection, you must make a reasonable effort to maintain the secrecy of the information.
Trade secrets can be the lifeblood of a business operation, so it’s worth safeguarding them. Contact your attorney for more information about how to protect yours.