A trade secret is something that a company or business uses in the manufacturing of its product or service that they keep a secret. This can be a device, method, formula, program, process, pattern or technique. According to the website of Kohler Hart Powell, SC, trade secrets must retain certain features to be protected under law. It is important to be familiar with the concept of trade secret in order to smoothly run a business.
First, a trade secret must be that, a secret. There must be a reasonable level of security taken by the owner to keep the information hidden. Second, the trade secret must provide a competitive advantage to the owner over other producers in the same category. Essentially the secret must retain economic value. Lastly, there must be consistent efforts to keep the information secret. This is often in the form of non-disclosure contracts that must be signed by any who learn of the secret.
There are three main ways that misappropriation can occur. First, a person or manufacturer can intentionally get the information when they are not meant to have it. However, it is legal for other manufacturers to attempt to get the information by reverse engineering products. Second, if the information was obtained illegally by another person but given to you and then you publish it, you can be accused of misappropriations. You must have knowledge that the information given to you was obtained illegally prior to publication. Lastly, if you have signed a non-disclosure agreement but tell even one individual about the trade secret you can be accused of misappropriations.
Trade secret misappropriation accusations can be complex and confusing. There are many different parts that must be proven before the prosecution can obtain the rights to accuse you of misappropriations.