A trade secret is a property right recognized by the government with regard to confidential information. A trade secret may be kept forever as long as the information is kept in confidence and is not available through a public source. A trade secret may apply to an idea, its description, or any product or service that holds value as a result of it being held in confidence and thereby creating an advantage over those who do not have access to the secret. A trade secret represents a limited form of protection in that anyone is free to independently discover the secret or to determine the secret through analysis on any product in which the secret may be obtained.
A trade secret is not registered with the government or with any entity. It must be kept secret by the owner. It requires the existence of an in-house trade secret program. The program must include guidelines on who may have access to the information and controls to prevent unauthorized disclosure. The proper maintenance of a trade secret program may be expensive. A trade secret lasts so long as you keep it a secret and misappropriation of a trade secret may be enforced in either state or federal court.