How do I file to protect a trade secret?

UPDATED: Nov 14, 2013

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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