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Trade Secret

Domestic science class, Alberta Ladies College, Red Deer, Alberta 1913.A trade secret is any information about a product or process that is kept secret by a company from competitors. Trade secrets include processes, recipes or other techniques that are used consistently over a length of time. Some of the most famous trade secrets include the formula for a soft drink or the ingredients for fried chicken. Public knowledge, or widely recognized processes cannot become trade secrets. Unlike a patented invention or a copyrighted work, trade secrets do not have to be original—a trade secret can be a logical improvement to a process that is not patented.

An obvious, yet important characteristic of a trade secret is the significant degree of secrecy involved. It, therefore, serves a purpose different from a patent—since the patent process necessarily requires the disclosure of the specifics of an invention, a trade secret protects just that, the specifics.

Trade secrets are typically protected through non-disclosure agreements between employers and employees, with civil litigation the result of violation of such an agreement.

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