Protect your secrets – the right way

A trade secret is a property right in a plan, process, mechanism or compound, the protection of which is a private contractual matter between parties.


This can include a variety of information and material of a commercial, financial, industrial, technical or scientific nature – anything from a client or supplier list to a manufacturing process to a marketing method can constitute a trade secret.

Unlike a patent, however, as soon as the secret is discovered in any honest way, the discoverer has the full right of using the information.


There can be great value in properly protecting a trade secret  – having exclusive information that is not widely known or not easily obtainable can give you a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Shapiro Cohen LLP can help you protect your trade secrets by drafting appropriate contracts, such as non-disclosure and non-competition agreements, in addition to suggesting added safeguards to defend your valuable assets.

FAQ & Case Studies

Trade Secrets FAQ

How long does trade secret protection last?

As long as the information qualifies as a trade secret, there is no time limit to its protection.

What costs to expect

The costs of protecting a trade secret can vary significantly.

For example:

If you are an independent inventor that needs non-disclosure agreements prepared, negotiated and signed before disclosing an invention — the costs can be quite small.

If you are a high tech company with several employees who must implement strict security protocols to limit access to highly valuable proprietary information and prevent loss through theft or espionage — the costs can be more significant.

Patent vs trade secret

There are some significant advantages that patent protection offers over trade secrets:

  • There are many inventions can’t be protected as trade secrets. Why? When the inventions are commercialized it is readily apparent to the public and competitors what they are, which means they lose their secrecy.
  • Even if you are able to commercialize your invention without revealing sufficient information, there is always the risk of your competitors figuring it out on their own. Trade secret protection will not stop competitors from making and selling the invention if they are able to develop the invention through their own legitimate efforts (including reverse engineering of a lawfully acquired product).
  • There is always a risk that a trade secret will be lost either through misappropriation or even inadvertent disclosure.

To learn more about patents click here.

If I file for patent will I loose my trade secret protection?

Yes, once the patent application become public you will no longer have trade secret protection.

If you have any questions please call 613-232-5300 to speak to a professional or email us at

Trade Secrets Case Studies

A group of inventors thought to approach an established company in order to license their invention, before their patent had issued.
The inventors had been advised by their IP professional to have the company sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), since the invention had not been patented yet. The NDA serves two purposes: the exchange of information between the inventors and the company is regarded as a non-public disclosure, and the technology is regarded as a trade secret.

The company informed the inventors that their technology was of no interest. However, the company went ahead and incorporated their technology into its product line, without informing the inventors.

Once the patent issued, the inventors sued the company for patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation. While the courts eventually ruled the patent to be invalid, the trade secret misappropriation was upheld. As a result, the inventors were awarded a multimillion dollar judgment. Such is the benefit of treating their invention as a trade secret when they disclosed it to the company.

information coming soon

information coming soon