Your business may have valuable trade secrets that would cause your business to lose value if revealed. This type of confidential information may qualify for federal legal protection. 

Review the laws about trade secrets to ensure your company has a comprehensive intellectual property protection strategy. 

Trade secret qualifications

To qualify as a trade secret, information must remain confidential except when you license it for fair use. If you seek IP protection, the court will consider confidential information a trade secret when: 

  • The secrecy of the information holds demonstrable value. 
  • Only a few people have access to the information. 
  • You have taken reasonable actions to keep the information secret. 

Examples of trade secrets

Your business may require trade secret protection if your profit relies on confidential manufacturing methods, algorithms, original research, distribution processes, advertising and marketing strategies, client lists, supplier lists, software, source codes, recipes, formulas, and financial details. 

Trade secret protection

If your information qualifies for protection as a trade secret, you can file a lawsuit if an unauthorized third party shares, uses or accesses the protected information. You do not need to register your trade secret to receive protection, and legal protection for qualifying confidential information does not expire. 

Based on the circumstances, you may be able to sue for unfair business practices such as espionage, breach of confidence or breach of contract. You must show the court that the illegal use, access or disclosure of your trade secret resulted in quantifiable financial loss. Depending on the country where the defendant violated your trade secret, you can ask for an injunction against further use. Some cases also qualify for criminal prosecution.