Intellectual property can be a key asset of many businesses. Whether your business is a technology based business, or a consumer product, intellectual property can be valuable. It is important to invest in the protection of your company’s intellectual property by working with an experienced trade secrets attorney. A failure to police and defend your intellectual property rights may result in a loss of those rights. If you need help protecting your Intellectual Property please call the IP lawyers at Gaston & Gaston at 619-398-1882 today.
Trade secrets can prove to be valuable assets to many kinds of companies. Trade secret protection arises from various statutes that create a branch of legal practice called trade secret law. While there is no registration required to give rise to a trade secrets, they are still entitled to strong protection under trade secret law. In order to have a trade secret, a company must take adequate steps to protect the secrecy of the information. Once a trade secret is exposed, it is no longer entitled to protection under the law. A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information that is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers. In some jurisdictions, such secrets are referred to as “confidential information” or “classified information” and may commonly be referred to as proprietary information.
Common trade secrets include customer lists, vendor lists, manufacturing processes, methods, business analysis, recipes and non-public financial information or business plans. Many times companies must litigate to protect their trade secrets when a former employee has retained customer lists, financial information or business plans. Courts may grant an injunction to prevent the use of such stolen or retained information if the company can show imminent and irreparable harm. All companies must put in place certain procedures in order to adequately protect its valuable trade secrets. Some trade secret violations may also give rise to claims of unfair competition.
Trade secrets are perpetual and therefore do not expire under the law as a patent would. Protection continues indefinitely until the secret is either revealed, or the knowledge becomes independently discovered by another. Once a trade secret is revealed or independently discovered, the information may be used or duplicated by others.
The public policy behind trade secret law is the protection of economic vitality. A company invests money, time and labor into generate information regarding refinements of processes and operations. If competitors have access to the same knowledge, the first company’s ability to survive or maintain its market dominance or market position and market share could be impaired. The doctrine of trade secrets entitles the creator of knowledge regarded as a “trade secret” to the protection of their investment in the creation of that “special knowledge” by granting the creator rights in the intellectual property.
One of the most basic steps that companies must take to protect their trade secrets is to require their employees and contractors to execute confidentiality agreements for the benefit of the company. Such an agreement will require that employees and contractors not disclose any trade secrets to third parties.
Additionally, it is a good business practice to have any company that will be exposed to your trade secrets, by virtue of the fact that they perform a service for your company, or that they are considering investing in or purchasing your company, execute a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement for the benefit of your company. A failure to enter into such an agreement may in effect result in the waiver of trade secret protection.
If you have questions about trade secret law or need assistance in protecting trade secrets, including a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement, please contact our expert trade secret lawyers at the law firm of Gaston & Gaston in San Diego and Orange County, California at 619-398-1882 today.
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