As a technology and trade secret attorney, I get to see evolution of a person's idea from conception to fruition. Too often, however, clients seek attorney advice on protecting a trade secret only after there is a problem. In many instances, people as so anxious to move their idea forward, they forget that the one key ingredient which makes their intangible idea valuable is protecting the idea, or its incarnation as software, technology or other intellectual property, as a trade secret. A trade secret lawyer sometimes have to hold you back to make sure your idea is protected from third parties, employees, consultants, independent contractors and customers before letting those folks into the tent. If you fail to protect and maintain the secrecy of your idea, whether software code, technology, formula, process or otherwise, you lose trade secret protection. That means anyone can copy your idea, and no non-compete or trade secret attorney will be able to stop them.
The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) §(4) states:
"Trade secret" means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program device, method, technique, or process, that: (i) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from no being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and (ii) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), §5 also places special requirements on the court to maintain the trade secret during the pendency of the trade secret case litigation:
Preservation of Secrecy -In action under this Act, a court shall preserve the secrecy of an alleged trade secret by reasonable means, which may include granting protective orders in connection with discovery proceedings, holding in-camera hearings, sealing the records of the action, and ordering any person involved in the litigation not to disclose an alleged trade secret without prior court approval.