Secrets aren’t always a great thing, especially in relationships, but in business, secrets are necessities to achieve success. In fact, business secrets can even be legally protected when they are identified as trade secrets. Given the immense importance of such confidential business information, it is critical that your company knows exactly how to protect it from the competition with the help of a Tampa IP Law attorney.
What Is a Trade Secret?
The exact legal background of trade secrets is rather complex, but in general a trade secret is confidential business information that allows a company to enjoy a competitive advantage over other similar companies. This might be a manufacturing strategy, an industrial technique, or a commercial capability.
Many people joke about “Momma’s secret ingredient” that makes certain restaurants so successful, but that reference to a trade secret is perfectly legitimate. A trade secret is not authorized to be used by anybody except the person or people in possession of the information, and use of it by the wrong person can be considered as commercial espionage, breach of contract, or breach of confidence.
The Best Way to Protect a Trade Secret
Despite the potential legal ramifications of breaking a trade secret, there is actually no procedural formalities for registering a trade secret to make it official. A trade secret can qualify as such if it is not generally known or readily available information, if it has commercial value, and if it has been maintained as a secret through confidentiality agreements and other logical steps.
For this reason, the first step to protect a trade secret is to employ confidentiality agreements with employees while simultaneously keeping them engaged and fulfilled in their job positions. Since it is the employees that will most likely need to work with the trade secret each day—such as the “11 herbs and spices” that KFC famously uses on their chicken—it is helpful to always have employees on board. They need to understand the consequences if they breach the confidence of the business. Failure to do so will result in action taking by an intellectual property attorney.
Furthermore, don’t disclose your trade secret to third parties when it’s avoidable. The more parties that know your trade secret, the easier it is to be leaked. Of course, any secret information must be prefaced with a nondisclosure agreement to ensure your intellectual property isn’t stolen.