Trade secrets can involve valuable information about a business, and leaking such secrets could be devastating for Alberta businesses. One example is the Coca Cola Company that has protected its soft drink formula for over 100 years. For some businesses, their ongoing success is dependent on the protection of trade secrets. However, business and commercial law in Canada does not offer intellectual property protection.
The only legal way to prevent confidential information falling into the wrong hands is through the registration of a patent. This is a costly process, and many business owners choose to treat valuable information as trade secrets. Others use this method to keep their secrets until they have a registered patent. For the protection of trade secrets, the secret must provide value for the business, and the company must take every possible step to protect the secret.
Methods to protect trade secrets from leaking include establishing confidential or nondisclosure agreements before disclosing any business information. Business owners can also ensure that employment agreements contain confidentiality clauses. Valuable information should be locked up safely, and computerized information must be encrypted and password protected.
Inventors or designers typically find it challenging to launch a new business, commercialize products or seek business partners without revealing some trade secrets. Because of the risk of having trade secrets become general knowledge, many companies in Alberta choose to retain a lawyer’s services with experience in all aspects of business and commercial law. Legal counsel can explain the available legal options and explain what can and cannot be protected by law. For example, trademarks or patents do not cover market research analysis, recipes, and consumer data. An experienced lawyer can assist with establishing methods to protect trade secrets.