Protecting Your Trade Secrets

How do I protect my business’ trade secrets?

Your trade secrets are likely an invaluable part of your business’ success.  Trade secrets can include formulas, patterns, practices, and processes that are unique and confidential.  Your trade secrets can be found in your restaurant’s special recipes, your proprietary method for creating products, or your unique client list, for example.  Protecting your trade secrets from competitors is vital to the ongoing success of your business.  Our NYC trade secrets attorneys at Thomas M. Lancia discuss how you can identify and protect your trade secrets below.

What is a Trade Secret?

A trade secret is considered any confidential information that offers a business an economic advantage.  A trade secret must involve information that is not generally known and can be reasonably maintained a secret.  The Uniform Trade Secrets Act has been adopted by many states across the nation, but as of now New York is not one of them.  Nonetheless, state, case, and federal laws do exist to protect trade secrets in New York.

Business owners may not be aware that they have trade secrets.  Owners should take the time to analyze their business to determine what trade secrets they may wish to protect.  One of the ways to identify a trade secret is to think about what process or information your competitors would want to use. If the release of a specific formula, recipe, process, technique, or the like would hurt your business, then chances are it is a trade secret.

Protecting Your Trade Secrets

Once you have identified what information needs protection as a trade secret, take steps to protect your trade secrets.  You should consider the following:

  1. Monitor who has access to the information:  Protected information should be stored and clearly marked as confidential.  Secure computers or other areas where your trade secrets are kept to prevent widespread access.  
  2. Train employees and put policies in place:  All employees that will be working with trade secrets or need access to them to fulfill their job should take training and sign a non-disclosure agreement.  You should develop company policies that govern the protection of trade secrets and refresh employees as needed.
  3. Find an attorney:  Failure to protect your trade secrets could cost your business significantly in the long run.  Contact a trade secret attorney for assistance with drafting crucial nondisclosure agreements, company policies, and other protections for your trade secrets.