As a business owner in Pennsylvania, you may rely on the uniqueness or superiority of their products or services to maintain a competitive edge in the market. Whether the formula used for an energy drink, a computer algorithm, a cookie recipe or some other information, you and your company may seek to keep others from discovering that something special in your products and capitalizing on it for themselves. Therefore, it is important for you to understand what trade secrets are, so you understand how to protect this type of intellectual property.

According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, a trade secret is defined as information that brings independent economic value because it is not generally known or readily attainable by others who could derive value from its use or disclosure. Further, reasonable efforts must be undertaken to protect the secrecy of such formulas, programs, devices, methods, processes, compilations or patterns.

In determining if information qualifies as a trade secret, and thus, is protectable under intellectual property laws, a number of factors are considered. These include the following:

  • The value the information brings to the business or would bring to its competitors
  • The effort or funds utilized in developing the information
  • Whether the information is known to people outside of the potential secret owner’s business
  • The level to which it is known by employees or others in the business
  • The extent of efforts taken to help maintain the information’s secrecy

The ability of others to appropriately duplicate or acquire the information on their own is also a relevant factor in determining if information qualifies as a trade secret.

The information contained in this post is not intended as legal advice. It is meant for general considerations only.