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Many businesses thrive off of their intellectual property consisting of patents, trademarks, and copyrights. However, a new IP star – the trade secret – is quickly on the rise.
Due to advancements in technology and an ever-changing market, trade secrets play a vital role in many businesses. By establishing information as a trade secret, businesses who fall victim to misappropriation of their trade secrets can seek redress in the court system. Available remedies include both injunctive relief and monetary damages, which can amount to very large sums of money.
In practice, trade secrets can include manufacturing techniques, business plans, client lists, computer algorithms, or even a new invention for which a patent application has yet to be filed. There are two key factors in determining whether an idea, document, formula, or invention qualifies as a trade secret:
Courts place particular emphasis on the second factor – keeping the information secret. Thus, it is critical for businesses to take proper precautions to maintain the secrecy of their trade secrets, or they risk losing the ability to protect them in court. While businesses do not have to go to extreme measures to protect their trade secrets, they still must make reasonable efforts. Such efforts may include:
The responsibility of establishing and protecting trade secrets is ultimately on the business. However, by being vigilant and proactive, a business can effectively protect its trade secrets without spending a substantial amount of time or money.
 See Ohio Revised Code §1333.61
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