US Trade Secret Basics

It’s critical to learn about protecting business trade secrets in the US.  Trade secret applies to start-ups or young entrepreneurs who plan to expand their business or raise more funding.

Definition of Trade Secret

A trade secret is a piece of confidential and valuable information. It gives its owner a competitive advantage. Below are examples of trade secrets:

  • Formulas
  • Patterns
  • Methods
  • Processes
  • Designs
  • Customer lists
  • Other confidential information

Confidentiality of Information

There is no government agency assigned and public database for trade secrets. Businesses use confidentiality clauses and contracts to protect trade secrets. NDAs are executed with employees, independent contractors, and partners.

Legal Protection

There are US laws protecting trade secrets under state and federal laws.

  • Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) is adopted by most states.
  • Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) is mainly for trade secret misappropriation.

Trade Secret Misappropriation

Trade secret misappropriation is the unauthorized acquisition, use, or disclosure of such classified information. It can be any of the listed below:

  • Theft or bribery
  • Breach of duty of confidentiality in NDAs

There are legal remedies for misappropriation of trade secrets:

  • Injunctive relief to stop future unauthorized use or disclosure of trade secrets
  • Compensatory damages for the economic harm
  • Punitive damages for serious misconduct

Duration of Trade Secret Protection

There is no set period of protection for trade secrets.  Maintaining the secret keeps the protection valid. It should keep giving its owner a competitive edge. Making it public removes its protection.

Protecting My Trade Secrets

These security measures help in protecting your trade secrets:

  • Physical security
  • Restricted access to confidential information
  • Employee training on the importance of confidentiality.
  • Use legal tools like NDAs and contracts


Consult with an experienced trademark attorney for misappropriation cases. Legal experts can evaluate your case and advise you on your legal rights and available options. They can assist you in seeking proper legal remedies to safeguard your trade secrets and collect damages for any resulting loss.