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What Counts As “Trade Secrets,” And What Can I Do If Mine Are Stolen?

What Counts as “Trade Secrets,” and What Can I Do if Mine Are Stolen?

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What Counts As “Trade Secrets,” And What Can I Do If Mine Are Stolen?

A trade secret is a type of intellectual property a business owns. It can be a program, formula, technique, or other confidential information not known to the public. It’s something that gives a company an edge over a competitor. Typically, the trade secret is something a business produces through extensive internal research and development.

Protecting a company’s trade secret is vital. Only specific people are allowed to know about it and its purpose. If it gets into the hands of the wrong person, another business could use the confidential information for its benefit. The original idea loses its value because other similar products or services end up on the market. 

What Are Trade Secrets?

Intellectual property qualifies as a legal trade secret if:

  • The company takes reasonable steps to conceal it from the public;
  • The confidential information has economic value; and
  • A limited number of people know about the information.

Unlike patents that consist of content available to the public, trade secrets are private. Individuals outside the company do not know about them. Additionally, a select few people or groups are aware of the trade secret’s existence and cannot discuss it with anyone else.

Trade secrets can spring from various disciplines, such as:

  • Scientific
  • Financial
  • Engineering
  • Business
  • Economic
  • Technical

The intellectual property could include:

  • Instrument
  • Formula
  • Codes
  • Procedures
  • Practice
  • Proprietary process
  • Design
  • Method
  • Plans
  • Pattern
  • Recipe
  • Compilations
  • Program devices
  • Prototype

A trade secret can be tangible or intangible and compiled, stored, or memorialized graphically, physically, photographically, electronic, or in writing. 

How Are Trade Secrets Protected? 

You can protect your trade secrets without registration. That means you’re not required to follow a formal procedure. Trade secrets can remain protected for an unlimited amount of time. However, if someone outside the limited group legally acquires or discovers the intellectual property and discloses it to the public, it is no longer protected.

Companies could benefit from taking various measures to protect their trade secrets. Even though a specific process isn’t in place to protect a trade secret, you should consider some valuable precautions, such as these:

  • Create protocols for anyone visiting the company
  • Hire security personnel or install security cameras
  • Determine whether you could patent the information and whether the patent could offer additional protections
  • Provide access to a limited number of trusted people within the business
  • Execute ironclad confidentiality agreements with employees and anyone with knowledge of the trade secret
  • Thoroughly investigate perceived threats or security breaches
  • Appoint someone to manage plans involving the protected information

What Can I Do if Mine Are Stolen? 

If you believe or know your trade secret has been stolen, you should immediately seek representation from a civil litigation lawyer. Your lawyer could file an injunction on your behalf.

An injunction is an order issued by the court to force someone to stop taking specific actions, such as using your stolen trade secret for financial gain. The injunction could be permanent or only temporary during legal proceedings depending on the circumstances.

Once the injunction is enforced, you and your attorney can proceed with your case. They need to investigate the incident and obtain evidence to prove someone stole your trade secret. You might be entitled to compensation for the losses you suffered due to the theft. 

How We Can Help

Since 1950, Mullen Holland & Cooper P.A. have fought for our client’s rights. When you hire us, we will provide aggressive and dependable representation. You can count on our legal team to protect your interests and pursue a favorable outcome in your case.

If someone stole your company’s trade secret, do not hesitate to contact us. Whether it was an employee or competitor, our Gastonia, NC, civil litigation lawyers are ready to seek the justice you deserve. Call us today at 704-864-6751 or contact us online for a confidential consultation.

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