Losing the Secrecy of a Trade Secret

A trade secret is proprietary information about a product or business that
should be protected and concealed from the general public, so that its concept
is not made available for others to use for their own profit. If too much information
is disclosed to the public, there is a risk of abandonment of the trade secret.

Public vs. Limited Disclosure
Other than through blatant disclosure, the risk of discovery occurs through
either inspection or reverse engineering. Typically the information is obtained
by:

  • Advertising
  • Demonstrating
  • Marketing

However, a trade secret is not automatically abandoned just because it is revealed
to the public. In order for it to be abandoned, proprietary information must
be extensively revealed.

Limited Disclosure
While “public disclosure” may result in abandonment of a trade secret,
“limited disclosure” may allow for some restricted publication of
a trade secret without resulting in abandonment. The disclosure should be for
a specific and identifiable purpose and only for certain individuals in order
for it to be a “limited disclosure.”

Consequences of Abandonment
Once a trade secret is abandoned, however, it may be copied and profited from
by those other than its original creator without any legal repercussions against
the party using the abandoned trade secret.

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