What is a trade secret?
A trade secret is a piece of confidential business information, which holds commercial value.
Trade secrets come in a variety of forms, such as research findings, inventions, processes, software algorithms and product ingredients. Examples of trade secrets are KFC’s herb and spice recipe, and Google’s search algorithm.
How can I protect a trade secret?
Unlike other Intellectual Property (IP) rights, trade secrets cannot be registered, therefore the only way to protect them is to keep them a secret. This can be achieved by minimising the number of people who know the secret, restricting physical and electronic access to the information, and putting Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) in place.
Trade secret vs. patent
Large companies whose products are sold around the globe may opt to keep information a secret, as opposed to registering a patent. Patents only last for a number of years and cannot be renewed indefinitely. In addition, patents are public knowledge, so your valuable information is widely available, particularly once the patent expires. A trade secret, in theory, has the potential to last forever.
The world’s best kept trade secret
Coco-Cola’s recipe is one of the world’s best kept trade secrets. Since 1886, the secret formula for the infamous soft drink has been concealed from the public, by storing it in ‘The Chamber of the Secret Formula’ in Atlanta.