Protecting Your Trade Secrets
Are you protecting your trade secrets effectively? Many larger corporations are very conscious of the existence and value of their trade secrets and have very comprehensive regimes, processes, and systems in place to protect them and to maintain confidentiality. Probably the most well-known examples would be the multinational soft drinks companies who are renowned for their very elaborate and effective protections of the ingredient formulas for their products.
But trade secrets may encompass intellectual property and information that goes far beyond ingredient formulas. Many businesses, especially smaller and medium sized companies, are not even conscious of the fact that they possess intellectual property that is not easily ascertainable by others, that confers economic value, and that were they to take reasonable measures to maintain its secrecy would enjoy strong protection under the law as a trade secret.
Due to this lack of awareness, many companies are losing competitive advantage and leaking valuable intellectual property into the public domain through former employees, vendors, service providers, and others, and what is more, often they are not even aware that it is happening.
Product formulas are just one type of intellectual property that can be protected under trade secrets law, but what many do not appreciate fully is that protection can also be extended to other intellectual property such as, practices, procedures, designs, instruments, and patterns.
Given that value in our economy is shifting dramatically from product to service, and that the essence of service is the intellectual property content, this is something that is becoming more and more urgent for all types of business across manufacturing, distribution, and logistics services alike.
Additionally. with climate change considerations driving an accelerating move to products that are more durable and long lasting to reduce resource consumption, businesses are having to deliver IP-rich service packages as an integral part of their product offerings if they wish to grow and continue to be profitable.
In your business, for example,
- Do you have a unique way of testing or simulating product performance that allows you to get new products to market more quickly than competitors?
- Do you have a service delivery design that provides an enhanced customer experience compared to your competitors’ offerings?
- Do you have a product returns and refurbishment process that extends product life in a way that competitors cannot match and that customers value highly?
All these designs, processes and procedures may constitute trade secrets that can be legally protected. This is because they are not public knowledge and they provide economic advantage to you as the owner, provided you put in place the proper framework and regime to do so, including what are termed reasonable measures to maintain the secrecy.
In the next episode of my Interlinks podcast, I will be interviewing an expert in this field, Art Schick, of Alpha Sierra Global LLC. Art is a former Vice President of Purchasing with PepsiCo and in this interview Art and I will be discussing the following topics:
- The key features of, and distinctions between, trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets.
- Why companies often overlook their trade secrets and what the undesirable consequences of this can be.
- How companies can go about identifying, codifying, and protecting their trade secrets.
- What some of the best practices are that the top companies adopt to protect their trade secrets.
You can listen to the Interlinks podcast here Patrick Daly Interlinks Podcast (albalogistics.com) or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other main podcast platforms. The interview with Art will be available from 25th April 2022. Meantime there are over 80 recorded episodes on diverse supply chain topics with practitioners all around the world.
If you would like to discuss how Art and I may be able to help your business determine how to identify and protect your trade secrets, you can contact me directly on +353 86 811 6030 or firstname.lastname@example.org, wherever you are in the world, to start the conversation.