With a patent, the person or company that holds the patent has to file information that ultimately becomes public knowledge. This is important since people need to know what patented inventions or processes they are not allowed to use without permission.
When it comes to food, transparency is important. Consumers need to know what they are putting into their bodies, and all food products sold in stores have lists of ingredients and nutritional content. This doesn't prevent people from buying things that are unhealthy or questionable, of course, but they have a right to know exactly what they're buying. The ingredients cannot be kept a secret, as consumers could then be exposed to risks that they don't understand.
The internet has made it easier for business associates worldwide to share information between themselves in this technological era. While this has been a good thing in many cases, it's come with some downsides. One of those is how to protect trade secrets and other proprietary information from being intercepted by competitors.
Do your trade secrets give your company an edge? Is it imperative that you protect those secrets from the competition? Even for some of the most well-known brands in the world, the entire value of the company lies in their trade secrets -- the things that really set them apart. Protecting that is crucial.
Keeping trade secrets safe is hard. Even with non-disclosure agreements and things of this nature, companies worry about their secrets getting out. In the world of the internet, once something escapes, it is hard or impossible to put a lid on it again.
Many companies have invested a lot of energy into combating hackers that have attempted to steal their intellectual property (IP) in recent years. While cyber crime can be blamed for some of this information becoming public, it's not the primary reason why trade secrets have been exposed. Data compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) shows that 85% of all state and federal IP cases can be attributed to employee misappropriation. Any company that maintains valuable IP rights such as trade secrets is required to take reasonable steps to protect its confidentiality.
Trade secrets -- the information that your company owns and jealously protects from its competitors -- have a lot of value. If you're a business owner today, you'd be very remiss not to take steps to protect your trade secrets. In fact, failing to do so means that you could lose the right to call some of that information a "trade secret" at all.
Another company steals your trade secrets. Maybe it's a domestic company or an international company that has trade relations with the United States. Either way, they use your trade secrets for their own gain. What can the court do to help you?
A non-disclosure agreement, or an NDA, is used to protect company secrets. It essentially says that the employee will have access to these secrets as a necessary part of their job, but they cannot legally let this information get to a third party. Doing so could harm the company, which may then take legal action against the employee to seek compensation.
If you're thinking about how to protect your trade secrets, you may be thinking about a rare situation where an employee decides to sell out your secrets for a personal payday. You want to make sure it doesn't happen, even though you think it's uncommon and even unlikely.