Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Price For Violation Of Trade Secrets

The key to a successful business or company lies in the formula, processes or designs that the company preserves. A trade secret is a “formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers.”
Trade secrets are governed by state laws. They are not protected by law as much as patents and copyrights are. Most states adopt the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (USTA). The main difference between patents and copyrights and trade secrets is that it remains a secret when it remains undisclosed.
In order to prevent trade secrets from leaking into the competitor, the plaintiff should issue a non-disclosure statement as well as non-compete clause. An employee, in order to have a chance to continue working with an employer, is made to sign an agreement not to reveal the company’s “proprietary information.” Any violation of this agreement shall merit stiff financial penalties for the offender.
Compared to a patent, there are no expiration dates for trade secrets. However, the absence of formal protection will not stop a competitor from using the trade secret once it leaks to the public.
In any case, as long as the trade secret would not lead to monopoly or unfair advantage, then it is alright not to reveal the confidential information. However, if the opposite happens, then I think trade secrets is one way of creating unfair competition.
Trade secrets are considered as intellectual property rights and if you think that it is being violated already, then you have the right to make a claim.