IP Essentials: Q&A Series


How long does a trade secret last?

Q Should I worry about trade secret misappropriation?

Q Can I license/sell my trade secret? A Yes. You can freely transfer your trade secret to others in any way you choose. This is because a trade secret is viewed as a piece of property in the eyes of the law – just like patents, trademarks, and copyrights. In other words, a trade secret owner owns the rights to sell, license, lease, or otherwise transfer

A Yes. Trade secrets may give a competitor an unfair advantage or head start if the competitor improperly accesses the secret information. In most instances, this information comes from former employees including key personnel such as directors, officers, and key employees (engineers, scientists, managers, and sales professionals). Q What if my trade secret can be reverse engineered? A Trade secret law does not prevent discovery by fair and honest means in business competition. Reverse engineering must be well documented to defend against a future claim of trade secret misappropriation (likewise, for independent development). Owners of trade secrets should consider patent and/or copyright protection, or contractual prohibitions on reverse-engineering, if the information may be reversed engineered from your product or service.


Trade secrets can last as long as the information is properly maintained and protect – potentially forever.

the asset to others for commercial reasons.

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