Every business has potential trade secrets that could become legally protectable if only the owner would take reasonable steps to prevent their public disclosure. Companies that derive a competitive advantage from the information it develops over time may protect that information as a trade secret. However, the owner must take steps that are reasonable under the circumstances to ensure that the secret isn’t inadvertently misappropriated either through employee ignorance, lack of protective measures or simple failure to recognize the secret as a trade secret. In this discussion, you’ll analyze trade secret protection, first by thinking of a protectable secret and what steps would need to be taken to shield it from public disclosure, then by consulting with your classmate to improve his or her protection plan.
- Explain the types of intellectual property and personality interests
- Identify protectable interests and rights holders
- Describe how to preserve rights in intellectual property and personality interests
- Understand how trade secret laws can be violated, along with potential penalties
Part 1: Find an article describing a trade secret case, whether decided or in progress.
- Describe the gist of the lawsuit—trade secret cases are interesting so be sure to include enough detail so your classmates know what happened. If the court ruled, what was the finding and punishment (if guilty)?
Part 2: Think of a trade secret that could arise in your business or area of interest. It must meet the basic trade secret criteria of (a) giving you an advantage in your business and (b) not being something the public can easily obtain from other sources such as books, the Internet or experts in the field. If you developed the secret, how would you protect it?
- Explain the secret.
- Discuss the means you would use, considering whether physical (e.g., notices, locks), contractual (e.g. non-disclosure, non-compete agreements) and/or operational (e.g., policies, procedures) safeguards would be needed.
- Explain how these measures will help prevent others from learning the secret.
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