The following is an edited transcript of my video What is Trade Secret Protection?

There are numerous different types of intellectual property, such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Another type of intellectual property is trade secrets, such as the formula for Coca-Cola, or the original recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. These examples of intellectual property are protected because they have been kept secret, which makes them different from trademarks, copyrights, and patents in several ways—a key differences being that all those other forms of intellectual property are filed publicly and are disclosed as part of the process of obtaining protection. By its very nature, trade secret is undisclosed.

Business internal workings are kept secret and protected as trade secrets. An example is some of the algorithm that Google uses to build its search results, which has been kept secret to keep it away from competitors and to keep people from trying to game the algorithm and the system. The recipe for WD40 has been kept secret for many decades. Trade secret protection is available for any type of information or idea that is secret and undisclosed and gives your company a competitive edge. Keys in protecting trade secrets include:

  • you must hold the information tightly closed internally and keep it secret
  • you must have written protocols and policies within the company for the protection of the secrets
  • you must follow those protocols and guidelines, and you must enforce them if somebody breaks them

One key piece of protecting trade secrets can be confidentiality agreements and NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). If you have trade secrets or you’re going to develop trade secrets within your business, you want to talk to an attorney about helping to construct and build a set of policies and protocols and enforcing them so that you can ensure that your efforts regarding the secret are fruitful and you can benefit from the protection if it’s done correctly.

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