A pattern, design, practice, process, formulation, instrument, compilation of information, and commercial methods are examples of trade secrets. Business can acquire an economic advantage over customers or competitors for knowledge that is not reasonably ascertainable by others. Confidential information is another term for these trade secrets in some court jurisdictions.
Jurisdictions vary when using legal precise language for the definition of a trade secret. Depending upon what type of particular information is actually used, trade secret protections may or may not be covered in certain jurisdictions. There are three factors that can share a common denominator when actually defining a trade secret and they are: 1) Information that is not usually known to the general public; 2) The secrecy on the subject of reasonable efforts is kept by the holder; and 3) The holder can achieve economic benefits due to the knowledge not being made public.
Under Article 39 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, the three factors above are in fact the definition of a trade secret. This agreement is also legally referred to the TRIPS agreement. A trade secret in defined under 18 U.S.C. 1839(3)(a)(b) (1996) in the United States. It can also be referred to as the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 and this act contains three parts: 1) Measures are to be taken for reasonable protect the information; 2) The information that may have been obtained; and 3) A derivative that was not publicly known about independent economic value.
To a company’s intellectual property, trade secrets can be very important. The company’s market capitalization can be important because they measure the contributions for a company’s value. The contributions are hard to measure if they try to actually be invisible. Patents are a contribution that is visible, but overdue, and unbefitting for the internal innovations. Having a scoreboard that could provide an internal insight can be priceless, especially when it comes to employees leaving to start competing business ventures and the dangers of the company’s employees that may be leaving. A good trade secret lawyer may be able to explain these business risks in much greater detail and inform you of what options that you have at your disposal.
Trade secrets are never disclosed to the public at large. Legal security and technological measures should always been available to the owners of trade secrets. Non-compete clauses, (NDA’s) or non-disclosure agreements, and work-for-hire options are just some of the legal protections that are available to the owners of trade secrets. An employee may agree to protect these trade secrets in exchange for becoming employed. The employees may be obligated to sign these types of agreements so they will not be tempted to reveal the proprietary information from their employers.
Trade secrets are often protected by a few trusted individual employees. This restricts the use of any key information. A couple of examples of some trade secret products that are famous are Coca-Cola and Budweiser Beer. Trade secrets can be protected for an indefinite amount of time. These trade secrets can provide an improvement over patent protections and other intellectual property rights that are registered.
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