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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

We’re here in our trade secret series, and we’ve talked today about the idea of what a trade secret is and how it differs from patents. Just yesterday, we introduced the concept that, whether it’s with your own business or even in a future life, as an employee, this matters. You learned yesterday that it’s important to assess what information within your company is critical and what’s valuable to it. What makes it special? What is it that makes your company deliver products differently than its competitors? These are all great ways to do that initial assessment to begin identifying and labeling your internal processes, methods, and trade secrets as proprietary.

Today, I want to talk about the next step. Once you’ve done this initial assessment, how do you go about actually enforcing it? Say there’s an employee that took that information and ran off with it to start up their own company or spilled it and told the public about it, heaven forbid. How would you be able to enforce that against an ex-employee or another company that purposefully hires one of your employees trying to get a trade secret?

This is done both at the state level and at the federal court, so you can take the defendant to state court, as every state has adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. You’ll move forward as long as you can prove three elements: one, that your trade secret information is indeed valuable economically; the second is that you’ve been making efforts to keep the information secret. The third big element is that it must not be readily ascertainable in the public knowledge base. So, if these three elements are met, and you’ve been doing a good job keeping your information secure, you’ll likely be able to be meritorious in this suit.

If you have any questions about how to protect those trade secret assets so that you will have the leverage to enforce it down the road, give us a call.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at