Companies must take steps to protect their confidential information from being released to competitors. For some types of information, this can mean registering trademarks, copyrights or patents. For others, it means treating the information as a trade secret.
Famous examples of trade secrets, include:
- Coca-Cola’s syrup formula
- Special blend of herbs and spices in Kentucky Fried Chicken
- Google’s search algorithm
- WD-40’s formula
For trade secrets, there is no equivalent to the U.S. Copyright Act or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Businesses must protect their trade secrets on their own. They typically do this through contracts with their employees and business partners.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), intellectual property is classified as a trade secret only if it has the following three characteristics:
- Actual or potential independent economic value due to not being generally known
- Value to others who cannot legitimately obtain it
- Been subjected to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy
Trade secret disputes
If your company’s trade secrets were wrongfully taken or misappropriated, despite your efforts to protect the information, you may have legal recourse.
A California court may grant an injunction to prevent the private and award you compensation for the damages incurred as a result of the misuse or theft of your trade secrets.
However, keep in mind that trade secrets can be obtained lawfully. An attorney specializing in intellectual property matters can help determine if you have a valid claim for economic espionage and help resolve your intellectual property disputes.