Unlike patents, trade secrets are protected without registration, i.e. trade secrets do not require procedural formalities to protect them. A trade secret may be protected for an unlimited period of time, unless it is legally discovered or acquired by others and made available to the public. For these reasons, the protection of trade secrets may seem particularly attractive to some companies. However, there are certain conditions under which information can be considered a trade secret. Compliance with these conditions can be more difficult and costly than it is at first glance. Non-competitive agreements are very useful in addition to a secret. For example, TLS Management recently obtained a $4 million business secrets abuse judgment against Mardis Financial Services in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.
In its August 2018 submissions, the Tribunal explicitly acknowledged that NDAs that require the return of all commercial and customer information after the conclusion of a commercial relationship are evidence of reasonable efforts to preserve the secrecy of trade secrets. As a general rule, a holder of trade secrets can claim damages from the person who violated the trade secret of the economic harm suffered. The trade secrets of some countries could also authorize the application of injunctions requiring a halt to the use of products created by the use of trade secrets in contradiction with honest business practices. In some countries, criminal sanctions are possible in some cases of breach of business secrecy. As the examples below illustrate, recent cases show many opportunities for minor adaptation to confidentiality agreements (NDAs), cooperation agreements and other valuable types of information that can provide better protection for owners of valuable proprietary information. Conversely, those who are willing to receive third-party proprietary information should take into account the lessons learned from these examples. As we already know, trade secrets can last forever if certain qualifications are fulfilled, including appropriate measures to protect business secrecy. WiPO Lex offers easy access to trade secrets legislation from many countries and regions.