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Trade Secrets

Knowledge is power. What your business knows about its customers, competitors, markets, manufacturing processes, product development and service delivery are things that give a business the competitive advantage over others in the marketplace.

By taking a multi-disciplinary approach that incorporates the experience and counsel from our Intellectual Property, Employment, Business and Commercial Litigation attorneys, Henderson Franklin works with clients to identify this key information and knowledge, protect it from disclosure, and enforce rights against those who try to misappropriate such information.

What is a trade secret?

At its simplest, a trade secret is something one business has that others do not. Well known examples of trade secrets include the recipe for Coca-Cola, Colonel Sander’s blend of herbs and spices, the composition of WD-40, and Google’s search algorithms. Trade secrets, quite literally, are the “Special Sauce” (see McDonald’s Big Mac) that create competitive advantage and separate one business from another.

Something does not have to be groundbreaking or iconic like Coca-Cola to constitute a trade secret. Trade secrets can encompass any type of information that is unknown to others and is valuable because it is unknown. Some examples of trade secret include:

  • code
  • data
  • customer lists
  • formulas
  • financials
  • marketing plans
  • business plans
  • pricing schedules
  • product designs
  • prototypes
  • scientific, engineering and technical information

All businesses large or small have some trade secrets.

Trade Secret Protection

Trade secrets are only protectable if kept secret. Because their value is based on a proprietary and confidential nature, businesses must be proactive when it comes to protection. By taking a multi-disciplinary approach, Henderson Franklin can address issues that impact different areas within an organization, such as involving employment attorneys to develop trade secret and confidentiality protocols for human resources’ recruiting and employment purposes. Similarly, with our extensive experience in business transactions, we work with our clients to help identify trade secret information within their organizations and develop mechanisms to ensure that information is kept in confidence, including reviewing existing consulting agreements, non-disclosure agreements and other contracts to make sure confidential information is protected.

Trade Secret Enforcement

Trade secret litigation is on the rise and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Businesses in all industries today face greater competition as the workforce has become much more mobile. Additionally, with increased connectivity within organizations and, for some companies, widespread remote workers, there are more virtual access points where third-parties can gain access to confidential and potentially critical business information. If a business suspects its trade secrets have been misappropriated, it must act swiftly.

Henderson Franklin’s IP Litigation team regularly represents clients in federal and state courts to assert -- or defend against -- theft of trade secret claims. We understand the importance of trade secrets to the bottom line and survival of a business, as well as the exigency these matters present. If a trade secret falls into unwanted hands, we work quickly to seek restraining orders or injunctive relief and have handled complex misappropriation and unfair competition cases for clients in a number of different industries, including:

  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare
  • Financial Services
  • Software
  • Professional Education
  • Real Estate
  • Publishing

With our deep experience in both intellectual property and litigation, Henderson Franklin’s IP Litigation team can develop and execute litigation strategies that will effectively and efficiently protect your confidential trade secrets. Please feel free to contact any of our Intellectual Property attorneys or the Practice Group Chair, Mark Nieds at mark.nieds@henlaw.com or by phone at 239-344-1153.

Click to download Henderson Franklin's Intellectual Property Brochure.