Our Monmouth County Business Lawyer Explains
On the news, you may frequently hear about “leaked” secrets from industry titans like Apple and Google. Contemporary business law is very much concerned with the protection and regulation of critical trade secrets that help companies to maintain their competitive edge. Although there are many different kinds of information that a company may withhold from public knowledge, not all of this information receives classification as a “trade secret” under the law.
What Type of Information Does the Law Consider Trade Secrets?
The term “trade secret” is thrown around in the press and it easy to confuse a trade secret with some other kind of confidential information. According to the United States Code, a legally protected trade secret is information or knowledge that is:
- Not widely available or known by the outside public
- Produces economic benefit by not being known to the public (a valuable idea is not necessarily a trade secret)
- Intentionally and consistently kept hidden from the public, meaning that a company actively works to keep the information secret
Common examples of trade secrets include new product concepts, development plans, construction drafts, marketing schematics, research results and customer lists.
Protecting Trade Secrets with the Law
A business cannot simply claim that an idea, product or service is a “trade secret.” To receive legal protection, a business must make clear efforts to maintain the secrecy of the information. This typically includes:
- Marking the material as “confidential” – whether through a lengthy disclaimer or simply a rubber stamp, companies must plainly indicate the confidential nature of any potential trade secrets.
- Limiting access to individuals with a need to know – only the employees whose duties rely on knowing the information should have access to it.
- Having employees sign confidentiality agreements – make it clear that the company can seek monetary relief if an employee discloses proprietary information.
- Outlining a company policy for confidential information – this includes periodically providing a reminder about the importance of protecting company secrets.
Taking these measures to protect trade secrets helps foster an understanding amongst your employees and contractors that confidential material created for the company ultimately belongs to the company. Your Monmouth County business lawyer is also an important resource for protecting your trade secrets.
We Protect Your Business
If you are looking to protect the secrets of your business, or if you are suffering from an employee’s disclosure of critical information, contact our Monmouth County business attorneys. We have the experience and qualifications necessary