Trade secrets are an appealing form of intellectual property protection because there are no costs specifically applicable to acquiring this form of protection and such protection can last indefinitely. The most significant drawbacks to utilizing trade secret protection for valuable business information are that it does not protect against reverse engineering and it does not provide for redress where someone else independently develops the same know-how.
For certain types of innovations, trade secrets are definitely a preferable form of intellectual property protection. For example, patents will not be issued for ideas or concepts but rather only for concrete applications of such. Trade secret protection, however, is available for such subject matter if it is maintained as secret and derives independent economic value by virtue of its not being generally known. Further, the bargained-for-exchange in the patent sphere is that, in exchange for the limited-in-time legal monopoly that a patent provides, the inventor must disclose the subject matter of the invention to the public in the patent. Once the patent expires, therefore, the public is free to make and use the invention. Where, for example in the case of a recipe or composition of matter, one’s goal is to not share the “secret sauce” so to speak and to maintain such secrecy as long as possible, trade secret protection is likely the better route.
While, as noted, there are no costs specific to acquiring trade secret protection, there are measures that will need to be taken to ensure that one is meeting the standard for keeping the information sufficiently secret. Non-disclosure and non-dissemination agreements, confidentiality policies, electronic/IT security precautions, and physical security measures may all be critical to ensuring that a trade secret owner has sufficiently maintained the secrecy of the information. As an experienced trade secrets lawyer, Chiacchio IP’s Founder and Owner Ted Chiacchio is well-equipped to help you navigate the terrain of trade secret law and make sure that you are taking the necessary to steps to preserve trade secret protection.
In contrast to other areas of intellectual property law, for trade secrets, the only enforcement mechanism available to a trade secret owner is for misappropriation (i.e., theft) of the trade secrets. This is why it is important, when considering who to retain as your trade secrets lawyer, that you take into account the value of retaining an attorney who is not only experienced with trade secret law, but who also possesses broader litigation experience, as theft of trade secrets is, in some respects, no different than other forms of theft.
Ted has extensive experience litigating trade secret disputes. Ted currently serves as lead trial counsel for a trade secret litigation in U.S. federal district court where he represents the plaintiff trade secret owner. The trade secrets involved relate to computer source code for executing high frequency securities trading strategies valued in the millions of dollars. More generally though, Ted’s 15-plus years of experience litigating intellectual property disputes inures to his clients’ benefit daily. Moreover, Ted’s broader business litigation experience puts him in the unique position of being able to handle, not only the intellectual property aspects of trade secret litigation, but also all related claims and defenses that often arise in such litigation (e.g., claims alleging breach of contract, conversion (i.e., civil theft), fraudulent inducement/concealment, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with prospective business opportunities, etc.).