With so many technological advances happening in every field, companies are working harder at innovation and creating products and services that are unique and set them apart from the rest. Often, products that are released today are the result of many years of hard work and an investment of millions of dollars. Protecting these assets is an essential part of the advancement of that business.

What happens if someone obtains that information through improper means? Does the wronged party, usually an employer, have any recourse in this situation? New York residents may not be aware that the Uniform Trade Secrets Act defines and outlines the protection offered to a trade secret. This week we will look at what a trade secret is and next week’s post will cover the essential items to a trade secret claim.

A trade secret is any information, including but not limited to, method, technique, device or process that has its own independent economic value from not being known publicly or easily ascertainable by other people who may be able to gain value from that information. In addition to this, reasonable efforts have been made to keep the information a secret. Before it fell under the purview of this act, it was actually a common law tort.

Unlike patents, there are no time limits to trade secrets-they are a secret indefinitely until public disclosure takes place. Simply using the trade secret of another doesn’t always have to amount to misappropriation. It must either be acquired through improper means or by the breach of someone’s confidence. Issues regarding this may occur most likely in employment contexts and it is very important to know what one’s employment contract covers with regards to trade secrets.

Source: Legal Information Institute, “Trade Secret,” Accessed on Dec. 1, 2015