If you own a business, you may have a trade secret that is responsible for a portion of your success. This may be a secret ingredient, industrial secrets or even confidential manufacturing information.

If someone uses your private trade information without your permission, they are technically stealing your secrets and may threaten your business by using them. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your information under unfair competition or intellectual property laws.

Patent your information

Some trade secrets may be better protected if you patent them. According to FindLaw experts, your information must meet the requirement for patent protection eligibility. While a patent will protect your information, however, there are some drawbacks to patenting it instead of keeping it as a trade secret. For example, patents have a time frame and will expire at a future date. It is much easier to enforce patent protection than it is for trade secrets, however.

Before you decide to patent your trade secrets, be sure to weigh the advantages and disadvantages to make the best choice.

Create a confidentiality agreement

Another way to protect your valuable information is to create a confidential agreement and require anyone with access to the information to sign it. Also called “nondisclosure agreements,” a confidentiality contract is a legal document that binds the person who signs it. If someone does disclosure your information, you can file a claim and seek legal recourse.

This type of protection usually works well since most people do not want to risk a lawsuit. This also allows you to protect your trade secrets without going through the process of patenting it.