Q.What is a trade secret?
A.A trade secret is any piece of valuable information that is not generally known to the public, which a business properly safeguards by limiting how and to whom it discloses such information. Trade secret law applies to a broad variety of information, including business plans, formulas, designs, patterns, procedures, and recipes. Although the definition of a trade secret varies from state to state, the three basic requirements are:
- information that is unknown to the public and not readily ascertainable by the public;
- which the owner has used reasonable efforts to safeguard; and
- is valuable because it provides the owner with a competitive advantage in the market place.
If the information is deemed to be a trade secret under the applicable state law, the law will provide the owner with certain remedies to address misappropriation, or attempted misappropriation of the protected information, such as the right to get an injunction to prevent disclosure and/or monetary damages. Federal law also makes the misappropriation of trade secrets a crime.