A trade secret consists of proprietary information used in a business that has independent economic value from not being generally known by the public. Trade secrets can be business, financial, scientific, technical, or engineering information consisting a formula, pattern, device, technique or process. These can range from customer lists and vendor contacts to market plans and financial analysis. Trade secrets may not be eligible for protection under patent, trademark or copyright laws.
To maintain trade secret protections, the owner of the trade secret must make reasonable efforts to keep the trade secret confidential. Businesses can help maintain confidentiality through contractual agreements and provisions such as confidentiality terms in employment contracts, non-disclosure agreements with business partners or others.