A trade secret is defined as any valuable business information that is not generally known to others and is protected by reasonable efforts to preserve its secrecy.
Every new patent starts out as a trade secret. When an inventor first conceives of a new idea, the only way of protecting it initially is simply to not tell others. While a patent gives inventors the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, or offering to sell an invention, it does so only for a limited period of time. Trade secrets last as long as they are kept secret. Think Coca Cola® and its 100-year-old secret formula. Damages associated with patent infringement are limited to compensating the patent holder for its pecuniary losses and not to punish infringers or force infringers to disgorge profits. Trade secret infringement on the other hand, merits a full array of damages including compensation for actual losses and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains.
Whether to hold a particular piece of intellectual property as a trade secret or as a patent is a difficult decision.
The factors to be considered in your specific case are likely complex and technical. At William Lovin & Assoc., PLLC we have decades of experience crafting trade secret protection plans and can help you implement yours so that you can have peace of mind knowing your firm's most valuable secrets are secure.
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