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When would a trade secret benefit your business?

Trade secrets are occasionally preferable to certain businesses. They may be secret, but that does not mean they are immune from theft. Take a recent court case, which involves Qualcomm taking Apple to court for allegedly stealing some of its trade secrets and giving them to Intel Corp. 

While many companies rely on copyrights to protect intellectual property, trade secrets can be more advantageous in certain circumstances. When deciding what to do with your business's IP, it is important to bear in mind the following benefits. 

Trade secrets have no expiration dates

Present copyright law states that copyrights last for 70 years, at which point, the information becomes available for public use. Trade secrets last as long as the information remains private. Theoretically, a company could retain the information for centuries. However, in the event the information were to become public due to a variety of circumstances, then no protections exist to ensure the company can retain the materials. 

They do not necessitate any disclosure agreements

When you file a copyright, you have to disclose pertinent details to the public record. For example, Coca-Cola has its recipe as a trade secret. Therefore, no one else knows what goes into a bottle of Coke. Coca-Cola can keep its recipe a secret, but if it had filed a copyright on the recipe, then it would have needed to divulge that information. 

They help protect abstract ideas

It is difficult for certain concepts to qualify for patent protection. Recipes, software codes and certain source codes may not qualify, but they can remain trade secrets. A piece of information qualifies for protections under trade secrets as long as a reasonable effort goes into maintaining the secrecy of the item and an inherent economic value exists by keeping such materials away from public consumption. In the event a business owner has already received a denial for patent protection, then making the concept a trade secret may be the only way to go. 

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