Most Wisconsin residents familiar with the business world could name a few examples of companies that possess a well-protected formula or key information that is vital to its success. Examples include the special sauce used at McDonald’s, Coca-Cola’s soft drink formulas and Google’s search engine algorithm.

Patent regulation is an area of business law that deals with the ability of a company to protect its trade secrets. Business owners in need of a patent must first complete an application that specifically details the invention they wish to patent. The patent owner will need to demonstrate that the invention is specific to his or her operation, not something that someone else could randomly discover, and satisfies the requirements that qualify for a patent.

While there is no clear definition that explains what can and cannot be considered a trade secret, any product or information that is specific to a company and provides an advantage over competitors is generally considered the property of a business owner for patent purposes.

The need for companies to protect the trade secrets that are integral to their success is growing in importance. The increase in trade secret value is happening at the same time it’s becoming more difficult to protect these secrets. Terms like networking, employee mobility, cloud storage and global interconnectivity are commonly used to describe the work and business environments of today. And while these advancements provide several advantages to businesses, the chances of trade secret misappropriation also increase.

Most successful businesses deliver their products and services to customers in a way that separates them from the competition. Business owners concerned with guarding information that provides their company with a competitive advantage in their market may do well to speak with a business law attorney concerning the matter.

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