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Trade Secrets

Unlike Patents, a Trade Secret is a type of Intellectual Property for which the owner does not seek registration or a grant from the Canadian Government.  A Trade Secret typically consists of a formula, pattern, device or compilation of information which is used in the trade secret’s owner business and which gives the trade secret owner an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use the trade secret.  A Trade Secret may be a formula for a chemical compound, a process of manufacturing, treating or preserving materials, a pattern for a machine or other device or a list of customers.  As the name of this Intellectual Property suggests, trade secrets must be kept secret.  Matters which are generally known or commonly known to the trade in which the trade secret owner is engaged cannot be protected as a trade secret.  If a trade secret has in fact been maintained as secret, a trade secret owner may be able to recover damages for another’s inappropriate possession and use of the trade secret.    

Both technical and business information, data, ideas, plans designs or concepts may be protected under trade secret law. Historically in England the chancellor had jurisdiction over a person's conscience and might provide relief when strict application of the common law would lead to injustice. Over time, courts of chancery were established and administered a system of discretionary remedies known as equity. Among those remedies was the binding of a person's conscience to require maintenance of secret information in confidence. This action became known as the breach of confidence action.

The breach of confidence action gives the person to whom the obligation of confidence is owed, the right to require the person who owes the obligation to keep the information secret. In many cases, the contractual or fiduciary obligations may obligate the person who owes an obligation of confidence to refrain from certain uses of the confidential information. In such cases the person to whom the obligation of confidence is owed may have the right to insist that the person bound by the obligation of confidence use the confidential information only for the purposes of the owner.

Using trade secrets companies potentially forever can protect information about their operations from faithless employees, industrial spies, venture partners and competitors. A trade secret is any information, not generally known, that gives an actual or potential commercial advantage to its owner and that has been maintained as a secret by its owner. To qualify as a trade secret, information does not have to meet any standards comparable to patent law's novelty standard or copyright law's originality standard. Trade secrets may include customer lists, methods of doing business, revenue forecasts, formulas, designs, minor improvements to known processes, and "negative knowledge" such as failed avenues of research. Anything of economic value can be protected anywhere in the world. 

Unlike patents, trade-marks/service marks or copyright, a trade secret is a type of Intellectual Property for which the owner does not seek registration or a grant from the Canadian Government.  A Trade Secret typically consists of a formula, pattern, device or compilation of information which is used in the trade secret’s owner business and which gives the trade secret owner an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use the trade secret.  A trade secret may be a formula for a chemical compound, a process of manufacturing, treating or preserving materials, a pattern for a machine or other device or a list of customers.  As the name of this intellectual property suggests, trade secrets must be kept secret. Matters which are generally known or commonly known to the trade in which the trade secret owner is engaged cannot be protected as a trade secret.  If a trade secret has in fact been maintained as secret, a trade secret owner may be able to recover damages for another’s inappropriate possession and use of the trade secret.