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What is a Trade Secret?

Every business has its secrets which make it successful. Whether it’s a special recipe, a unique manufacturing process, or a groundbreaking marketing strategy, some things are best kept under wraps and away from the public. Enter the concept of trade secrets.


A trade secret is confidential information that gives a business a competitive edge. It’s something not generally known to the public (i.e., is secret) and is protected because of its value to the business (i.e., provides a competitive advantage).

Characteristics of Trade Secrets:

Not Publicly Known: Trade secrets are not information that’s readily available or known by the general public. For example, it could be a formula, program, method, process, business strategy, customer list, technical data, or other types of information.

Business Advantage: The secret provides an actual or potential competitive edge or economic benefit to the company.

Protection Measures: The company takes reasonable steps to keep the information secret, such as encrypting it, monitoring it, maintaining strict access controls, and using non-disclosure agreements when necessary.

Why Protect Trade Secrets?

Maintain Competitive Edge: Trade secrets can keep a company ahead of its competitors. For example, the specific recipe of a popular soda or the algorithm of a search engine.

Encourage Innovation: If businesses know their innovations can be kept secret and not copied easily, they have more incentive to innovate and produce.

No Expiration Date: Unlike patents, which have a set duration and will expire, trade secrets can remain protected indefinitely as long as they remain secret and are not independently developed by a third party.


Trade secrets are the hidden treasures of the business world. They fuel innovation, maintain competitive advantages, and are paramount to a company’s success. As long as they remain under lock and key, they can continue to offer immense value to businesses.


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