Protecting Your Trade Secrets
It’s best for manufacturers to think of trade secrets as the secret ingredients that make an enterprise competitive in the market place that the competition does not know, but would like to.
Trade secrets have been part of commerce since the dawn of civilization; the secrets of the alchemist, the special know-how of the artisan. Any sizable business enterprise will own thousands of them. They can range from a company’s mailing list, personal employee information, pricing margins, financial data, trading algorithms, to future product designs.
Trade secrets cannot be otherwise available to the public or revealed by reverse engineering. An owner of a trade secret must also take “reasonable steps” to keep the information secret. What is “reasonable,” may depend on the nature of the secret and the workplace. Evidence of “secrecy,” can include a confidentiality policy in an employee handbook or a requirement that people with access to the trade secrets sign a specific confidentiality agreement. Requiring passcodes to access company data and computer systems, keeping hard-copy confidential information under lock and key, limiting access to R&D labs, manufacturing facilities, etc., all amount to evidence of an intent to protect confidential information from unauthorized dissemination.