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Is the world's most famous trade secret for sale on eBay?

Trade secrets are a concept with which every Sacramento business owner should be familiar.

In essence, any information that is not widely known, derives some economic benefit from not being widely known and is the subject of reasonable efforts to keep it from being widely known could be considered a trade secret.

In other words, formulas, business practices and customer lists could potentially be trade secrets, and thus deserving of legal protection.

What brings this to mind is a recent news story about what is arguably the most famous trade secret in U.S. history - the original formula for Coca Cola.

Recently, a Georgia couple said they had found a copy of Coke’s original recipe among a box of documents they bought at an estate sale. They put the recipe, which they claim is from 1943, on sale on eBay, asking for $5.5 million.

Coca-Cola reacted with indifference. Its chief archivist said there is only one known, authentic copy of the original recipe and it is locked away in the company’s vaults. He said it is not uncommon for people to claim that they have found “the original recipe” and ask how much Coca-Cola will pay them not to release it.

We thought the Coca-Cola recipe was a good opportunity to introduce our readers to the concept of a trade secret. We want to stress again that many business owners do not realize they have material that could be worthy of trade secret protection. These business owners are leaving valuable rights on the table.

Source: Time, “The Real Thing? Original Coca-Cola Recipe Might Be on eBay,” Olivia B. Waxman, May 14, 2013

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