Termination of a Trade Secret
How Do You Terminate a Trade Secret?
Information can lose its protected status as trade secret if it is put into public knowledge. If the information is readily accessible to people who could commercially exploit it, it can no longer be claimed as a trade secret.
How Long Do Trade Secrets Last?
Trade secrets last as long as they are kept secret. So, if no one ever discloses them and they are not publicly known, trade secrets can last forever.
Can a Trade Secret Be Terminated by Any Disclosure?
No, disclosure terminates trade secret protection only if the information becomes generally known or readily ascertainable. Some types of disclosures that will not terminate trade secret protection are:
- Disclosure to employees
- Disclosure to suppliers
- Disclosure to people who want to license your product
As long as the person you make the disclosure to is under some duty to not disclose, and as long as they respect that duty, disclosing trade secret information will not terminate protection.
When Does Disclosure Terminate a Trade Secret?
Disclosure will terminate a trade secret when it makes the information publicly available. It does not matter if the disclosure was intentional or accidental. It does not matter if the trade secret owner took all reasonable precautions to protect the information. What matters is whether or not the information is made generally known. This can occur in several different ways:
- The trade secret owner can deliberately terminate the trade secret by publishing it or by selling a product that makes the information obvious
- Someone else who learned of the information can disclose it
Is Disclosure the Only Way to Terminate a Trade Secret?
Disclosure is not the only way to terminate a trade secret. A trade secret is terminated any time the secret information becomes available to the public. For example:
- A trade secret can be terminated if someone develops the information independent of the trade secret owner
- If a person reverse engineers a product to find out how it was made, that information is no longer a secret and will lose trade secret protection
Do I Need to Talk to a Lawyer Experienced in Trade Secret Law?
If you have questions or concerns regarding the security of your trade secret, you may want to consult a trade secret lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help you keep your trade secret a secret.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 01-11-2012 04:29 PM PST