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Trade secrets: Keeping them safe from others

It was a "Eureka!" moment when you finally created a product you wanted to sell to others. You quickly began to create plans for your business, knowing that it would be successful. No one else has anything like you're creating, and that means great things for your future.

One thing you should remember is that you shouldn't share too much about your trade secrets. Giving away too much information before you've protected yourself could end badly for you.

Trade secrets are vital to your business plan and development, and you must take steps to protect them. A trade secret, any pattern, formula, device or other collection of information used in business, gives your business an advantage over others. Without it, your business could fail or do much worse than it's doing now.

Some types of business information that may be considered to be trade secrets include financial information, marketing techniques, nonpublic documents or drawings, blueprints, future product designs and others. These trade secrets are already protected under common law, which means that you may be able to pursue a claim if someone steals a trade secret from you.

Unlike with a patent, trade secrets are protected no matter what they are so long as they give your business an advantage. That protection may never expire, while a patent generally only lasts around 20 years. Another significant difference is that patent holders can block others from using a patented idea, whereas if someone comes up with the same idea on his or her own, a person can't block a trade secret from being used.

Source: FindLaw, "Ten Strategies for Trade Secret Protection," accessed Dec. 22, 2017

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