The intellectual property (IP) protection for trade secrets helps the holder of the trade secret to protect confidential information of commercial value.
We will discuss the legal protection of trade secret from international point of view. Most of these principles are applicable worldwide.
What is trade secret?
It is a type of IP right on confidential information. By trade secret you want to protect information which gives you competitive edge against other competitors by hiding it and thus not disclosing it to the public.
Trade secret examples
Any information that is secret and has commercial value might enjoy the protection as trade secret, if the requirements are met. Here are some examples of trade secret:
No, you can not register trade secret. Disclosing trade secret would be contrary to the main principle of trade secret which is staying confidential.
There are 3 main conditions for trade secret to be granted protection:
- Information must be secret.
- Information must have potential or actual commercial value.
- Holder of trade secret must have taken reasonable steps to keep information secret.
As a trade secret holder you have right to prevent others from disclosure, usage and acquisition of protected information. In practice you are protected from various unfair practices such as breach of confidence, breach of contract and industrial espionage.
As long as the holder of the trade secret meets the legal conditions of trade secret, his trade secret enjoys the legal protection. Trade secret protection can thus last for indefinite period of time.
Trade secret protection can last for indefinite period of time, patent lasts until its registration is valid and maintenance fees are paid.
Trade secret does not require registration and patent does require registration.
Trade secret protection is effective immediately and patent protection starts to be effective once the patent is granted.
Patented invention must be disclosed and trade secret must stay confident.
Trade secret is valid worldwide and patent is valid only in the country in which it has been granted.
Patent protects you from reverse engineering and independent discovery of information of someone else while trade secret does not.
Formula, recipe, pattern, procedure, process, drawing, business method, invention, know-how, plan, test data etc.