Many individuals, small businesses or companies organize themselves around a concept or ideas that they sell to the public. The importance of maintaining and protecting trade secrets about their ideas cannot be underestimated. Trade secrets are often the life blood of a company and the competitive advantage of a trade secret determines whether a business lives, dies, or becomes the next Google or Uber. While everyone thinks of Apple, Coca Cola or Uber as the great concepts of our time, these companies grew primarily as a result of aggressive product development, cutting edge technology or creative business approaches that were the product of many years of hard work, innovation and people possessing creativity or even brilliance in a narrow area of their industry. Something that all of these companies have in common are the fact that they had or continue to have trade secrets that they protect or have patented.
Many companies protect trade secrets by applying for patents before they are commercially sold in interstate commerce. Competitors may or may not be able to replicate their products or technology without infringing the patents, or they quickly figure out how to either challenge or circumvent the patent application through lawful or even unlawful means by foreign or domestic competitors. Trade secrets may remain secret whereas your patent application ultimately becomes part of the “public domain.” Theft of trade secrets are punishable in Texas both civilly and criminally.