A corporate attorney can help you ensure that your trade secrets are kept secret and protected by the law. A trade secret is any non-public, valuable information that gives your company an advantage in the market or over its competition. No company wants others to benefit from their research and efforts to develop an exceptional product or service. A trade secret can involve a variety of items, which may include formulas, data, methods of development, client lists, software, product strategies, and other pertinent information. For information to be considered a trade secret by law, the information must:
- Not become public knowledge
- Yield a commercial value to the business
- Endure significant steps to keep the information a secret
For example, KFC demonstrates extraordinary precautions to keep the original recipe a guarded trade secret of the company. KFC uses video cameras and motion detectors to keep the recipe secure while housing the recipe in a 770-pound safe buried in concrete. They have taken many careful steps to keep the trade secret under wraps and shielded from competitors. While this may seem a bit over-kill, some of the steps you can take to protect a company trade secret include:
- Making sure all trade secrets are labeled or listed as confidential data
- Disclosing the trade secrets only to employees on a need-to-know basis
- Using nondisclosure agreements to reinforce your protection
- House trade secret information in guarded areas of the building
- Make use of monitoring services, video devices, and other security technology to keep information safe
According to the U.S. Economic Espionage Act of 1996, if a trade secret is stolen or misappropriated, the offender has committed a federal crime and faces felony charges. Trade secret theft or misappropriation can have severe consequences to the convicted party. One could spend up to 15 years in prison for stealing a trade secret.
Trade secrets may be vital to your business and the overall success and future of your company. Many small or startup businesses fail to realize the significance of trade secrets and do not emphasize to their employees, independent contractors, and other outside parties the importance of keeping them confidential. Your corporate attorney in Los Angeles can develop strategies and other protections to keep your trade secrets secure and your employees informed about the importance of confidentiality.