Even among lawyers, trade secrets law is an often-neglected area of intellectual property. But tell that to the President of a mid-sized business who just lost his Vice-President of Sales to a competitor along with a detailed list of pricing, margins and buying history of his best customers.
A trade secret is legally defined as any information that has value in the marketplace as a result not being generally known in commerce. When reasonably protected, trade secrets can have more long-term value than a patent. Patents must disclose to the public both the invention and how to create it in exchange for a 20-year monopoly on the invention’s use in commerce. A trade secret has no such restriction and can last forever if properly protected. The longest running trade secret in commerce today is the formula for Coca-Cola, dating back to the late 1800’s.