What is a Trade Secret?
Trade secrets protect your information not generally known to others, giving you a competitive edge and economic advantage over competitors by allowing a perpetual monopoly in secret information such as formulas, processes, designs, instruments, patterns, compilations, and customer lists.
Protection and Advantages.
There are no filings associated with the protection of trade secrets to ensure they remain unknown to the public. The most common form of trade secret protection is the use of non-disclosure agreements. Thus, unlike other intellectual property rights, trade secret rights, if obtained, never expire.
In May 2016, the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act took effect providing a federal private cause of action to trade secret owners while preserving state trade secret protection.
Misappropriation occurs when a trade secret has been unlawfully disclosed. Section 6 of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act states that action must be taken within “3 years after the misappropriation is discovered or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have been discovered". This same statute of limitations has been adopted by the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.
As with any intellectual property enforcement matter, prompt action creates a better chance for a desirable outcome, although such outcome can never be ensured. The best way to ensure safekeeping of your trade secrets is to take the appropriate measures upon conception.