Jorda on : What is and What is not a Trade Secret

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From the definitions recited before, it is possible to glean what is a trade secret and what is not a trade secret. On a primal level a trade secret is simply information and knowledge. More specifically, it is any proprietary technical or business information, often embodied in inventions, know-how and show-how.

The three basic requisites, mentioned before, are critical limitations on trade secrets and frequent pitfalls in trade secret enforcement and litigation and this is especially true of the need to maintain secrecy. There is a further significant restriction on the scope of trade secret protection: any information that is readily ascertainable as well as personal skills of employees cannot embody protectable trade secrets.
The confines of trade secrets as well as their relationship to patents can be illustrated by the following pictorial presentation:


Trade secrets are not only applicable as protection devices to early-stage inventions, subpatentable innovations or manufacturing processes, as is commonly but mistakenly believed. For example, in the Inventors’ Digest (July/August 2002, p.10) a Trade Secret is characterized as a “process or method that is used to produce a product and those who developed the process or method chose not to patent it but, instead, chose to keep it a secret from the world.”

Another unfortunate misconception appears in the “Report of the Committee for Study of Invention, sponsored by the Lemelson-MIT Program and the National Science Foundation (April 23, 2004)”: Trade secrecy can be used in the early research and development stages, before patents are sought. Trade secrets protect subpatentable innovations.”

That patentable inventions of any kind can also constitute trade secrets is indisputable in light of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Kewanee Oil v. Bicron, which recognized trade secrets as perfectly viable alternatives to patents. This decision merits a more detailed discussion, which will follow.

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This page contains a single entry by Jon Cavicchi published on October 5, 2007 8:00 AM.

Jorda on : Definition of a Trade Secret was the previous entry in this blog.

Jorda on : Terminology Misconceptions is the next entry in this blog.

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