Integrating Trade Secrets into a Comprehensive IP Strategy

By on June 18, 2018

Executive Summary of an article written by
John Tanski and Jason Murata, Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP

Companies that conduct R&D often have a patentability procedure. That process is also well suited to trade secret protection. In addition to deciding whether the invention justifies the cost of patent prosecution, your company should also consider whether to protect the invention as a trade secret. The decision between a patent and trade secret is not binary. Just as a single invention can result in several patents, your company can decide to patent some aspects of an invention and retain others as trade secrets.

A trade secret security policy should consider premises security; document security, such as confidentiality labels and rules against copying; access restrictions, which limit knowledge of a trade secret to those employees who need to know it for their jobs; dissemination restrictions, such as a policy requiring management approval before the trade secret is disclosed to a business partner; and confidentiality agreements with employees and third parties who have access to the trade secret.

Integrating trade secrets into an IP protection policy requires thought about a company’s assets and vulnerabilities. It requires commitment by company leadership to educate employees about trade secret protection and consistency over time to ensure that secrecy is not lost. With this commitment, your company can begin developing stronger trade secret protection protocols. And if you are ever called on to establish what your company does to protect its trade secrets, you will have a ready answer that will help prove a misappropriation claim.

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