There are many ways to protect the secrets that make your business a success and one option, especially if your business relies on a formula, is to protect it as a trade secret. The spice mix and recipe for KFC’s chicken is a famous example of a trade secret. You may be able to identify all the composite parts, but putting them together in the right mix would take a lot of effort.
Other examples of common business trade secrets include business details like customer lists, pricing and margins, technical specifications, techniques, and any other operational details you want to protect from competitors. Protecting something by calling it a trade secret is one way to use intellectual property law to protect your business, but it’s not as simple as saying something ought to be a secret. Your first step is to clearly identify what you want to protect as a trade secret. Create a list of what types of information you don’t want your competitors to get and that isn’t public knowledge.
Now that you’ve identified this information, you want to make sure you keep it confidential going forward. After all, it’s not a secret if everyone knows it. You should treat trade secrets like you would any protected information by keeping it in a secure storage place (either in a locked file cabinet or in safe digital storage) and limit who has access to the information. You should also mark the trade secret documents as confidential so that, if you do have to share the information, it’s clearly identified as such.
If you want to keep trade secrets, you should make sure your employees and contractors have signed a non-disclosure agreement. You should also take the time to educate them on the importance of keeping confidential information secret and what serious precautions your company takes to maintain the secrets.
You don’t have to go extreme and make sure that only one or two people in the organization have access to the secret – that may not work for your business. However, you should put into place business processes that are designed to protect sensitive information. These can be security processes, training for your team, contracts with those who have access to the information, and other physical security to make sure your secret sauce stays secret.
Any time you need to protect your company’s intellectual property, be sure to get the advice of an experienced business attorney. At the Virtus Law Firm, our team can answer your questions and help you decide whether you want to apply for copyright, trademark, or patent protection or whether it’s better to protect your information by creating a trade secret. Reach you today by calling 612.888.1000 or emailing email@example.com. With experienced business counsel on your side, you can be comfortable you’re putting the right process in place to protect your business and its intellectual property.