Or maybe we should ask first whether you have identified your trade secrets portfolio…
Many business owners simply overlook important intangible assets, failing to recognize their value. And that’s understandable – intangible assets are the ones Webster’s Dictionary would label “not material, not clear to the mind, vague and elusive”.
Yet in-the-know business owners realize that while their “trade secrets” may not be “material” they are, in fact, a most valuable asset. Trade secrets represent secret information that qualifies as intellectual property, often protected by law. A method, formula, device, process or any other information that is generally unknown and kept secret that gives a competitive advantage to the business would qualify as a trade secret.
While patents, copyrights and trademarks are publicly recognized or registered by the government, trade secrets are not. Yet often, the trade secrets of a business are worth more than all of its patents, copyrights and trademarks together. And in some businesses, the intangible assets may be even more valuable than the tangible assets, including inventories and equipment.
Unfortunately, business owners often don’t realize how valuable their trade secrets are until they’re being used to their disadvantage by a competitor.
What a rude awakening it is to discover that another business or ex-employee is using your process or other business knowledge to compete with you. And if you don’t take proper steps to protect your trade secrets, you may find that you really don’t own something you thought you did.
The message is clear. Business owners should recognize the value of their intangible assets and take the steps necessary to assure ownership and protect them from unauthorized use as soon as is possible.
Do I Have Trade Secrets To Protect? should assist you in identifying your trade secrets.
How Do I Protect My Trade Secrets can help you take steps to protect your trade secrets.