The essence of trade secret law lies in the fact that economically valuable information is kept secret from the public domain. If you want to be eligible for trade secret protection, you must have some security measures to keep your information secret. If you do not use adequate security measures, even if someone steals or misappropriates your information, it will not be considered a trade secret and you will have no remedy for the loss of the information.
What Kind of Security Measures Will Protect My Trade Secret?
You need to take reasonable security measures to protect your trade secret.
The reasonableness of your security measures will depend on several factors. Some of these factors include:
- The value of the information - The more valuable the information, the greater the security measures must be to be reasonable
- The trustworthiness of the people you disclose the information to - It is probably only reasonable to disclose information if you disclose to people who are likely to keep the information secret
- The necessity of disclosure - It is only reasonable to disclose information if that disclosure is necessary. If you don't value your information enough to limit who you disclose it to, you probably cannot protect it as a trade secret
- Industry standards - If you conform to the industry standards of security, you are more likely to be seen as acting reasonably
- Cost of security measures - The amount of money you spend on security measures should be proportionate to the value of the information to your business. This does not mean you have to spend exorbitant amounts of money to protect your information
What Are Some Common Security Measures?
There are several types of security measures that can be useful when protecting a trade secret. They include:
- Nondisclosure or confidentiality agreements for employees and independent contractors
- Physical limitations such as fences, locked doors, security guards, or restricted areas
- Notices, such as "no trespassing" or "confidential" that let people know that information should be kept secret
- Computer network security such as coded barriers or password protection
- Limiting the number and identity of employees who access trade secret information
Should I Consult a Trade Secret Lawyer?
If you have information that you wish to protect as a trade secret, you may want to consult a trade secret lawyer. A lawyer experienced in trade secret law will be able to help you figure out the best way to protect your information, and offer you guidance in the various areas of trade secret law.