Trade Secrets


Published on Jul 10, 2018

A brief introduction on what Trade Secrets are, why you should protect them, how they can impact a business’s bottom line, and their importance as Intellectual Property.

The video was produced by the Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA) in conjunction with the Office of Policy and International Affairs Enforcement team.



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(steady classical music)

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As someone who works in the
intellectual property field,

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you understand better than
most the important role

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that intellectual property
plays for businesses

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and the economy as a whole.

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Many are familiar with patents,
trademarks, and copyrights,

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but what about trade secrets?

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A trade secret can be
anything from a special recipe

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to a manufacturing process
to a particular technology.

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Trade secrets can play a big role

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in a business' financial
health and competitiveness.

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Trade secrets foster innovation

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and provide competitive advantages,

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but what exactly is a trade secret?

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Trade secret law is governed
by national legal systems,

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but the definitions for
trade secret generally

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share these three common elements.

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First, a trade secret is
information that has value

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by virtue of not being generally known.

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Like a recipe for the best
chocolate chip cookie ever made.

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Second, the information
has value to others

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who cannot legitimately
obtain the information,

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like a business's competitors
wanting the exact ingredients

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and their measures in that cookie mix.

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Third, the information is
subject to reasonable efforts

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to maintain its secrecy.

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The owner of the recipe puts
security measures in place

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to make sure not just anyone
can get their hands on it.

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A trade secret can be almost anything,

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chemical formulas or food
recipes, product designs,

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customer and contact
lists, pricing schedules,

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manufacturing techniques,
and marketing strategies,

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just for starters.

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And while it's easy to
understand the importance

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of a trade secret, underlying
big name brand products

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or services, trade
secrets come in all sizes

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and are important to
companies of all sizes.

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The failure to identify
and protect trade secrets

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can result in a loss of
competitive advantage,

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loss of core business technologies,

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and reduced profitability.

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In many countries, the
importance of trade secrets

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is reflected in laws and
regulations that protect

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against trade secret theft
because of the impact it can have

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on the economic vitality of businesses.

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Patents protect things like new inventions

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or innovative methods.

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Trademarks protect things
like logos and branding.

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Trade secret laws protect
much of the information

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that makes a business
or service truly unique.

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But in order to gain this protection,

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it is the business' responsibility

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to identify and secure
their own trade secrets.

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There's a lot more to
learn about trade secrets,

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such as governing law,

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what it means to misappropriate
another's trade secret,

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and what to do when a
trade secret is stolen.

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If you would like to know
more about trade secrets,

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the USPTO's Office of Policy
and International Affairs

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offers in-person training
programs on various topics

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related to trade secrets.

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The Global Intellectual Property Academy

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will be releasing a series
of distance learning modules

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devoted to in-depth
training on trade secrets.

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These distance learning
modules will be accessible

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to you and your staff so that
you can better understand

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and use trade secret law

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in your intellectual
property administration.