‘Discovering' Trade Secrets: The Devil is in the Details

August 2012 – Article
BNA's Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal, 84 PTCJ 492, 07/20/2012

Trade secrets are becoming a more fundamental part of intellectual property portfolios as intangible or knowledge-based assets are increasingly used to build and maintain a market place advantage.The information economy boom has increased both the importance of trade secret protection and the necessity to develop and implement internal practices to protect confidential information. These practices must be successful in a global market place amid rapid advances in technology and among an itinerant workforce.

While changes to the business environment have made trade secrets more significant, these same changes have also made them more likely to be misappropriated. Specifically, mobile, technologically-savvy employees, increased use of external contractors and consultants, and the very nature of information technology all provide increased opportunities for theft of trade secrets. These days it is much easier for a dissatisfied employee to walk out the door with a thumb drive in his or her pocket than to break into a company safe or secured area. As trade secret use and trade secret misappropriation increase in the digital age, so too does trade secret litigation.

Eric Schweibenz and Lisa Mandrusiak of Oblon Spivak discuss the evolving standards for identifying and disclosing trade secrets in the above article.