Trade Secret Lawyer
China Trade Secrets: Keeping Your Ideas Confidential
Trade secret is protected in China, although there are certain limitations as we discussed below. Many businesses prefer to protect their Intellectual Property by keeping them as trade secrets. Trade secrets are generally protected through employee agreements and confidentiality obligations. A company that develops a process or a formula (for example, the recipes for Coca Cola or Kentucky Fried Chicken) keeps it from being used by competitors by obtaining agreements from employees and vendors not to disclose the process or formula to persons outside those having an actual “need to know” within the company. Trade secrets require no filing with a state or federal government agency. Because no filing is required, it does not expire; thus, a trade secret may last forever (indeed the formula for Coca-Cola has been kept secret for a century).
The disadvantage of the law of trade secrets is that it does not prohibit someone from “reverse engineering” a product, provided they did not obtain information about the product from someone contractually obligated not to disclose the secret. For example, the law of trade secret would not prohibit a competitor from discovering the Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe through trial and error (though, no one yet has). Other Intellectual Property tools, however, may prevent a competitor from unfairly using a reverse engineered trade secret. Our China trade secret lawyer will advise whether protecting your Intellectual Property by relying on trade secret law is recommended and/or advantageous for you and your business.
What is trade Secret
Trade secrets can be any type of information, process, idea or "know how" that is not generally known and gives the possessor an advantage in the marketplace. Trade secrets therefore include a wide range of confidential business information known as proprietary information, such as:
- Chemical formulas
- Industrial processes
- Business plans
- Customer lists
How Is a Trade Secret Protected?
In order to maintain business information as a trade secret, you must take reasonable precautions to prevent the information from becoming generally known to competitors.
Reasonable precautions could include:
- Revealing business information to employees on a "need to know" basis.
- Keeping sensitive documents under lock and key
- Requiring passwords to access computer files.
- Restricting access to certain areas of production facilities.
- Requiring visitors to the facilities to sign in upon arrival and sign out upon departure.
Employee education is also a key part of trade secret management. Employees must be trained to be careful with proprietary information and warned about what business information is proprietary and what information is not.
Acquiring Trade Secrets
The law of trade secrecy discourages industrial espionage by punishing the efforts of competing businesses to learn one another's proprietary information by improper means.
Improper means of acquiring a trade secret might include:
- Infiltrating a competitor's production facility
- Stealing a competitor's documents
- Bribing a competitor's employees
What are trade secret laws?
Trade secret law protects secret methods, formulas, or devices that give one an advantage over the competition. Trade secrets can include manufacturing processes or devices, food products, recipes, chemical compounds, customer lists and even marketing plans. In order for trade secrets to be enforced they must bear all of the indicia of being kept secret and must have never been made available to the public at large. Consequently, a customer list that has been published in a trade show, cannot possibly be a trade secret.
How can our China trade secret attorney use trade secret laws to your benefit?
After an exploratory meeting with you during which you will share with us information regarding your goals, values and objectives, both personally and professionally, our China trade secret law firm will use that information to structure a strategy to help you achieve those goals through the proper management of your trade secrets and implementation of trade secret laws in a manner that makes the most sense to you. The result is that you will be more in control of the results you seek in connection with the protection of your intellectual property, than with any other approach.
If protection of your trade secrets makes sense to you, and if your failure to protect your trade secrets will have a severe effect on your bottom line, then it would make sense to takes all the necessary protection of your trade secrets, wouldn’t it? Our China trade secret lawyer can assist you by providing you with a strategy that implementing whatever tools necessary to insure that your trade secrets are protected and not misappropriated, including manuals that embody processes and policies for the maintenance of your trade secrets confidential, confidentiality agreements, and non-compete agreement. Further, Our China trade secret attorney can help you police your existing trade secrets against misappropriations and help insure that all title, rights and interest to your trade secrets belongs to you and to no one else; if that makes sense to you.