Three elements are required in order for information to qualify as a trade secret.
(1) The information is not generally known and not reasonably ascertainable;
(2) steps are taken to maintain such secrecy; and
(3) the information possesses economic value that derives from the secrecy.
Trade secrets may take the form of a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, commercial method, or compilation of information. As long as appropriate steps are taken to maintain the secrecy of such information, trade secret protection may extend indefinitely. Further, aside from measures such as non-disclosure agreements that are necessary to preserve the confidentiality of the trade secret information, obtaining trade secret protection does not entail any independent costs. Rather, if the criteria referenced above are met, such information will be deemed a protectable trade secret. However, there is no recourse under trade secret law where another entity reverse engineers the trade secret or another individual or entity independently arrives at the trade secret. Rather, an enforcement action based on trade secret protection can only be brought for misappropriation (i.e., theft).
As a trade secrets attorney, Chiacchio IP provides counseling concerning measures that should be taken to help preserve the confidentiality of trade secret information that are specific to each client’s operations, industry, and infrastructure. Chiacchio IP also provides customized strategic counseling regarding the pros and cons of trade secret protection as a potential component of a larger, global, approach to the client’s intellectual property portfolio.
Chiacchio IP is an active contributor to industry literature. We also give frequent presentations on topics relating to business patents and other intellectual property.