Trade secrets can be formulas, patterns, programs, devices, compilations, techniques, or processes. It is information that derives its value from not being publicly known.

Some of the characteristics that courts will explore to determine whether a company’s information is eligible to be protected as a trade secret are:

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  • How well the information is known outside the business
  • How well the business’ employees know the information
  • The precautions taken by the business to safeguard the secrecy of the information
  • The expense to the business to obtain and develop the information
  • The expense it would take to others to duplicate or acquire the information
  • The competitive edge the information gives to the business

Businesses do not need to go to extreme measures in order for a court to find in favor of a trade secret. Two of the simplest techniques are to stamp written information about the trade secret “Confidential”, limit distribution to a need to know basis and to ask employees, officers, and consultants of the company who may need the information to sign a confidentiality agreement.

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