You might be one of many people in Minnesota who have dreamed of starting your own business since childhood. Making that dream a reality can be a rewarding and exciting yet stressful experience. Perhaps your desire to become a business owner developed later in life. Either way, protecting your trade secrets helps protect the overall assets and financial interests of your company.
Trade secret issues can be complex and challenging to resolve. To resolve a dispute, you must first clearly define the term “trade secret,” in order to prove whether someone has stolen your protected business secrets.
Trade secrets are information not known outside of your company
Depending on the products or services your business provides, you might have information that you do not share with the general public. Someone who works for you might be privy to the information, however. Such information might include a pattern or design, a recipe or a system, practice or process that is used in product development or other business transactions.
If an employee or someone else steals your trade secrets and uses them to gain an edge over competitors in business or sells the information to another person or company, there may be evidence of intellectual property infringement.
Trade secrets give you an edge over your competitors
If you have a top-selling product, such as a drink or snack food, the recipe you use to make it might be a trade secret. If someone steals part or all of the recipe, then uses it to profit financially, a court may determine it a trade secret violation after reviewing the details of the case.
A key factor in determining whether information qualifies as a trade secret is whether or not the concealed information gives you an advantage over your competitors. Using the soft drink example, you might have a hidden ingredient or manufacturing process that makes your product appeal more to customers over other companies who sell similar products.
You must actively protect your trade secrets
If you leave a folder full of information in a conspicuous location where employees or others have access to it, it is not “hidden” information. For something to be legally considered a trade secret, you must be able to show that you took active steps to conceal the information from public view.
In short, trade secrets include information that you do not share with the public and actively try to protect from being known by the public, which gives you an economic advantage over your competitors. As a Minnesota business owner, you have a right to protect your trade secrets and to seek justice against intellectual property infringements.