Most Texas businesses have competitors in their market that they work against to grow and maintain their edge. In order to do that it is good to have a competitive advantage – the “secret sauce” that your competitor is lacking; the list of client contacts that the competition does not know about; the behind-the-scenes processes that make you more profitable; or some other competitive advantage. These competitive advantages can be trade secrets, IF they meet the elements of a trade secret.
Remember, your business’ information does not have to be a secret formula locked away in a vault somewhere to be a trade secret so long as it meets the elements discussed below.
Elements of a trade secret
In order to be considered a trade secret, the information must meet three basic criteria . First the information must have independent value because it is not widely known. Second is it must not be readily found out through proper means by your competition (that is, they cannot find it easily or reverse engineer it). Third you must make reasonable efforts to keep the information secret from others.
The information must meet all three of these elements in order to be a trade secret. If the information meets these elements, the company can protect the information legally and prevent it from being stolen or punish those who may steal it or benefit from its theft.
A qualified intellectual property attorney can assist your business to determine if its sensitive information qualifies as trade secrets. Additionally, an attorney can help you in crafting reasonable efforts (such as non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), non-compete agreements, and non-solicit agreements) to protect your business’ sensitive information. Further, a qualified intellectual property attorney can help your business initiate lawsuits against those who may leak your trade secrets and have courts order them to stop and seek damages from those who leaked or benefited from the theft of the trade secrets.