I am very happy to say that everything went very smoothly for my first webinar yesterday. I introduced our guest presenter Nicole Druckrey, Partner at Quarles & Brady LLP, a law firm that "provides broad-based, national-level legal services." She provided lots of valuable information in this presentation, and also answered quite a few audience-based questions, as well as a couple of my own. We didn't quite have enough time to review all those questions, so I have posted them below.
Question: Are trade secrets IP?
Answer: Yes! Your intellectual property can be protected as a trade secret. Not all intellectual property is necessarily a trade secret, however. In order for your intellectual property to constitute a trade secret, it must be of value to a competitor (i.e., your competitor would want it!) and you must take reasonable measures to protect its secrecy.
Q: Can I transfer my trade secret to others?
A: Yes! Oftentimes, a company's secrets are its most valuable assets. They can be sold to another person or entity.
Q: Other than recipes and customer lists, what other parts of my business may have trade secrets.
A: Some common ones include pricing formulas, strategic plans, marketing plans, business plans, your contracts with vendors and suppliers, and any research and development.
Q: Is it more cost effective to protect trade secrets or IP?
A: The costs associated with trade secret protection versus patent protection will depend upon the item being protected. Typically, the up-front cost of securing a patent will be much greater than the costs associated with employing reasonable security measures to protect an item as a trade secret (the former typically requiring legal fees). For this reason, trade secret status may be more appealing to a startup. However, if your intellectual property is "obvious" (i.e., it relates to the design of an item which anyone can determine by simply looking at the end product), you will want to secure a patent to protect the property. Trade secret status will not be sufficient because anyone could duplicate the item by simply looking at it (i.e., it's really not a "secret")
Q: Do I need an attorney to protect my trade secrets, or can I do it myself?
A: No attorney is needed. Though an attorney would be able to provide you with helpful guidance and advice (suggestions for protecting the secrecy of an item, for example), you do not need an attorney to protect your trade secrets.
If you were not able to listen in real-time, we have recorded the webinar for you above with downloadable (and shareable) slides and audio via Slideshare and YouTube. We have also saved this webinar to our Resources page under Webinars by Traklight.
After this webinar, you're may be left wondering if your intellectual property is at risk.