How do I file to protect a trade secret?

I am a new startup business owner with a line of natural body butters and facial creams. I’d like to trade secret my formulations (3 product formulations and working on a 4th). Can the application include all 3 or would I need to pay for each one separately?

Asked on November 14, 2013 under Business Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

There is no such thing as a "trade secret" filing: trade secrets are secrets because they are NOT disclosed, including in public filings. You can patent the formulations--assuming they are patent eligible--and try to protect them that way, but patenting takes at least months, if not years, and can cost several thousand dollars even when there are no complexities or opposing parties. If you wish to explore this route, speak with an intellectual property (IP) or patent attorney.

The most common way to protect a trade secret is by simply keeping it secret: mark it confidential; only distribute it to people who have a legitimate need; don't leave it lying around; etc. And you can have any employees, freelancers, contractors, or vendors who need to know the formulation sign confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements, and sue them for breach of contract if they do disclose the formulations. Have them sign these agreements before giving them access to the formulations.


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