Long gone are the days when spies needed physical access to information to steal, copy, or photograph it; modern technology now enables instantaneous global access and transmission. Protecting trade secrets ranks high on manufacturers’ priority lists, yet understanding “how” to protect these most valuable assets may be challenging.
A vast majority of states have adopted the Uniform Trade Secret Act (UTSA). The UTSA supplies the most commonly utilized standard for determining whether information qualifies as a trade secret. Though minor differences exist in the UTSA’s application from state to state, generally speaking, the following characteristics are required for information to qualify as a trade secret:
In order to maximize the protections available under the UTSA, manufacturers must implement practices constituting reasonable efforts to prevent disclosure. Manufacturers should consult an attorney to ensure that they correctly understand applicable state law governing trade secrets in the jurisdictions in which they operate. Generally speaking, any manufacturer hoping to shelter information as trade secrets should consider the following tips.
Although it provides a valuable starting point, the foregoing list is not intended to be comprehensive. The practices necessary to protect trade secrets vary in complexity based on specific circumstances. Manufacturers, in particular, should carefully consider whether their trade secrets are adequately protected.