Chipman Mazzucco Emerson LLC

Protecting innovation through trade secrets

For many entrepreneurs with tech start-ups in Connecticut, intellectual property may be critical to the future of their businesses. Proprietary details, methodologies for creating products and even internal practices of the company could all be considered trade secrets, particularly if this information is not available to the public. When people think of trade secrets, they may think of famous secret recipes; however, trade secrets have a significant amount of modern relevance for people involved in innovative startups and programming initiatives.

Trade secret holders can take action to protect their intellectual property from potential misappropriation. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act defines a trade secret as information that derives economic value from the fact that it is not known or available to others. It can include formulas, algorithms, devices and techniques, among other types of information. It applies specifically to material that a company seeks to keep secret and undisclosed. Unlike copyrights, patents and other forms of intellectual property, trade secret protection does not expire. As they are not registered with the government, there are no fees due in order to protect those rights.

However, companies do have to take action to maintain their trade secrets in order to seek to avail themselves of legal protection. If something becomes common or general knowledge, it is no longer protected, especially if it was determined independently by another party without infringement. This is one reason why companies may want to have clear confidentiality agreements that lay out exactly what employees are expected to keep secret.

Tech start-ups and others with innovative businesses involving new and undisclosed techniques might opt to work with an intellectual property or business law attorney to make sure that they are protected. An attorney may be able to help businesses to develop clear agreements on trade secrets as well as to take action in the case of misappropriation.

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