A trade secret is any information, process, composition, technique or formula that is not known generally and confers the owner an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use it. Trade secret can even be “negative information’, for example a method that does not work.
Trade secrets give immediate rights, they last as long as the subject matter is kept secret and there are no filing or prosecution costs of trade secrets. There is no requirement of novelty or utility for the trade secrets and therefore the field of trade secrets is much wider than that of patents. On the other hand, as soon as the secret is out all the rights are gone.
Trade secrets are an important and widely used business asset in the United States. Both small and large businesses rely on trade secret protection and often without even realizing it. It has been estimated that 90% of inventions are protected by trade secrets.
Before filing a patent one should always consider the possibility of keeping the invention in secrecy, because there are situations when one of these two protection methods is more useful than the other.
Dodds & Associates has experience in intellectual property audits. We can help you identifying the intellectual property of your company and analyze subject matter that your company might prefer to keep secret. We can help you also in defining whether the procedures, contracts and agreements in your company do qualify for enforcement of a trade secret.