Trade Secrets Attorney

Whenever a new invention is developed, especially a new formula or technique, one of the first questions that must be addressed is how best to protect it. The attorneys at Sierra IP Law assist their clients in making these crucial decisions. For new and creative works of original authorship, a copyright registration should be considered. For new labels and branding of products or services, a trademark registration should be considered. For new inventions, one way to obtain protection is with a patent; another possibility is by treating the invention as a trade secret.

Although a patent provides many significant protections, there are sometimes reasons why patent protection is not available or is not the best course. For example, the new formula or technique may have already been commercialized for more than one year, which could potentially act as a time bar to patent protection. Also, it must be remembered that a patent has a limited term (a maximum of 20 years from the filing date), that cannot be renewed or extended. This is a substantial period of protection, but the commercial viability of the invention could be longer. In addition, a patent is a public document that may be viewed by anyone. Because of this, it is possible for a competitor to review and learn from the patent, especially a patent on a formula or technique, and then practice the invention after the patent expires. In these and other situations, trade secret protection may be considered as an alternative form of protection where feasible. 

A trade secret is defined in California as (1) information (such as a formula, method, technique, or process) that has value by virtue of being not well known, that (2) is the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy. As long as the innovation, invention, or other valuable, confidential information is kept secret, trade secret protection is available, which could potentially last much longer than patent protection. A good example is the formula for the popular soft drink Coca Cola®, which was developed nearly a century ago and is still secret. If a patent had been obtained on this formula, it would have expired long ago and anyone would now be able to make the soft drink. 

It is therefore prudent for anyone involved in research and/or development of new inventions, business plans, and other innovations to be conscious of the need to maintain secrecy, in case the avenue of trade secret protection is chosen. The attorneys at Sierra IP Law have a wealth of experience assisting and guiding their clients with the protection of trade secrets, including the use of confidentiality and non­disclosure agreements, amendments to employee handbooks, and other documentation, as well as developing appropriate secrecy protocols, facility visitation rules, and other practical steps.

Because covenants not to compete are generally not enforceable in California, trade secret protection is very important to businesses and employers. The attorneys at Sierra IP Law assist businesses in the enforcement of trade secrets against unauthorized misappropriation, including litigation seeking injunctive relief, temporary restraining orders and monetary damages. Of course, trade secret protection only extends to things that are secret, and workers should be able to legitimately use certain information that is not secret. The attorneys at Sierra IP Law also assist departing employees and new business owners in determining what information may or may not be used when changing employers or starting a new business.
"Sierra IP Law exceeded our expectations
and continues to provide our firm with excellent results."
Bret Engleman - Engleman Cellars     [Attorney Advertising Notice]

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This Site may be considered advertising under the California Rules of Professional Responsibility. Sierra IP Law, PC does not seek to represent any person or entity based upon that person's or entity's viewing the Site (or any portion of the Site) in any jurisdiction where the Site (or any portion of the Site) does not comply with all of the laws and ethical requirements of that jurisdiction. Sierra IP Law's attorneys do not seek to practice law in jurisdictions where they are not properly authorized to practice. The various bar memberships of our attorneys are listed in each attorney's biography. The attorney who is responsible for this Site is Mark D. Miller in the Fresno office.

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