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Protecting trade secrets is crucial for businesses to ensure their competitive advantage and maintain their unique intellectual property. While copyright and trademark registrations are commonly known methods, there are several other techniques that can be employed to safeguard trade secrets in ways which copyright and trademark law do not.


A Maryland or DC trade secret lawyer can help you understand the significance of trade secret protection measures, including security protocols, encryption standards, and physical safeguards.

Maryland DC
Trade Secret Attorneys

In today's highly competitive business landscape, protecting trade secrets is a crucial focusing in maintaining a company's competitive advantage and ensuring long-term success. Our Maryland and DC trade secret attorneys are here to help! Feel free to scroll through the popular topics presented here or scroll through for the full discussion:

Maryland DC
Trade Secret Lawyers

Protecting Trade Secrets

Methods for Protecting Trade Secrets Beyond Copyright and Trademark Registration

Trademark infringement refers to the unauthorized use of a trademark or a similar mark that may cause confusion among consumers. It violates the exclusive rights of trademark owners. Infringers unlawfully capitalize on the goodwill and reputation built by a trademark owner, leading to detrimental consequences for both parties involved. The legal implications of trademark infringement are severe and can result in significant penalties and damages.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)


Non-disclosure agreements play a vital role in protecting trade secrets by legally binding parties involved to maintain confidentiality. Through an NDA, businesses can ensure that employees, contractors, partners, or any other relevant parties do not disclose proprietary information to unauthorized individuals or entities. By clearly defining what constitutes confidential information and outlining the consequences of breaching the agreement, NDAs serve as an effective deterrent against trade secret misappropriation. NDAs may also include promises not to disparage the parties to the agreement or other individuals. An experienced Maryland or DC intellectual property attorney can consult you on achieving maximum protection through the use of an NDA.


Key Components Of An NDA


Key components of an NDA include the definition of confidential information, the duration of confidentiality, obligations and responsibilities of the parties involved (such as the manner in which confidential information must be handled, shared, stored, or disposed of), consequences of breaching the agreement, and any exceptions or limitations to confidentiality.


Businesses That Use NDAs


NDAs are commonly used in industries such as technology, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, research and development, fashion, music, film, and any industry where the protection of trade secrets is critical, however they are a valuable and sophisticated tool for any business. These agreements are often used when sharing sensitive or valuable information with employees, contractors, partners, or potential investors.

Non-Compete Agreements (NCAs)


Non-compete agreements are contractual agreements that restrict employees or business partners from engaging in activities that directly compete with the interests of their current or former employers. In Maryland, non compete agreements are enforceable if they are reasonable in terms of duration (length of time during which the former employee may not compete), location (may be limited to a specific mile radius or certain geographic territories), and the type of activities restricted.


The aim of NCAs is to prevent the misuse of trade secrets and maintain a company's competitive advantage. Non-compete agreements are commonly utilized in industries such as technology, fashion, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and any industry where the protection of trade secrets and client relationships is crucial.



Non compete agreements cannot extend indefinitely or for unreasonable periods of time. In Maryland, the duration of a non compete is considered to be reasonable only if it is limited to the time necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests.


Geographic Area


Similarly, the geographic limitations of a Maryland non compete agreement cannot extend beyond the area necessary to protect the employers’ legitimate business interests. For example, a 100 mile radius restriction for a Maryland business may only be enforceable to the extent that the employer does business within that radius or that the employee has established client relationships within that radius.


Restricted Activities

Finally, the type of activities included in non compete agreement restrictions must also be reasonable. A non compete that restricts an employee from using certain skills acquired while working for the employer is not enforceable in Maryland. However, a restriction against working in the same industry for a period of time is more likely to be enforced by a Maryland court. It is important to note that the restriction must be limited to a specific industry rather than restricting the employee from working at all.


Ineligible Employees

Employers are restricted from entering into non compete agreements with low wage employees. Maryland considers employees earning up to $15.00 per hour or $31,200.00 per year to be low wage employees.




By preventing individuals with inside knowledge from joining or establishing competing ventures within a specified time frame and geographic area, non-compete agreements act as a deterrent against the unauthorized use of trade secrets. Non-compete agreements must strike a balance between protecting trade secrets and respecting the rights of employees. In fact, Maryland courts tend to favor employees in disputes stemming from non compete agreements.


Drafting an enforceable non compete agreement in Maryland is difficult due to the favor afforded to employers. The non compete must be necessary for the protection of the employer’s legitimate business interests. Still, the NCA may not cause undue hardship on the employee. Further to this, the employee must receive consideration (a benefit) for signing the non compete agreement, such as a bonus, increased salary, promotion, or continued employment. It is crucial to hire a competent Maryland intellectual property attorney to help you draft an enforceable non compete agreement.

Security Protocols

Implementing robust security protocols is essential to protect trade secrets from unauthorized access or theft. Such protocols may involve physical security measures, such as restricted access to sensitive areas and documents, encryption, locked cabinets or rooms, and security cameras, in addition to encrypted servers, local area networks, firewalls, and other methods. Additionally, companies can employ digital security measures, including firewalls, secure networks, multi-factor authentication, and regular data backups. By combining physical and digital security measures, businesses can create layers of protection for their trade secrets. An experienced intellectual property lawyer can help you assess you security protocols to ensure you have maximum protection of your trade secrets.

Importance Of Robust Security Measures

Robust security measures help protect trade secrets from unauthorized access, theft, or loss. These measures are crucial in preventing security breaches and maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of trade secrets.

Access Control Measures


Access control measures involve restricting access to trade secrets by implementing physical and digital controls. Physical controls may include secure areas, key cards, biometric authentication, and surveillance systems. Digital controls may include passwords, encryption, multi-factor authentication, user access controls, and rotating passwords. In addition, employers may provide computers and other devices for work purposes, including vehicles with GPS and other diagnostic tools, allowing them to remotely monitor the activities of employees.

Employee Training And Awareness Programs

Employees play a significant role in trade secret protection. Companies should provide training and awareness programs to educate employees on the importance of trade secret protection, the proper handling of sensitive information, and the potential consequences of trade secret misappropriation. It is important for employees to understand the consequences to both themselves and their employers in the event of unintentional disclosure of intellectual property.


Incident Response And Recovery Plans


In the event of a security breach or incident, companies should have incident response and recovery plans in place. These plans outline the necessary steps to be taken to mitigate the impact of the breach, investigate the cause, and recover any lost or compromised trade secrets. It is important to consider the civil and criminal penalties employers and employees may face in the event of unlawful disclosure of health, financial information, or other confidential intellectual property of customers, employees, or business partners, such as those outlined by the Maryland Personal Information Protection Act PIPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Maryland’s PIPA requirements are in addition to the federal requirements of HIPAA. Liability increases as businesses interact with consumers in other countries such as those in the EU, which regulates data protection via the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).


Encryption Standards


Utilizing encryption standards ensures that confidential information remains secure even if it falls into the wrong hands. Encryption converts sensitive information into unreadable formats, making it useless without the decryption key. This provides an additional layer of protection for trade secrets and other intellectual property, which can be implemented in various ways, including encrypting stored data, encrypting data during transmission, encrypting portable devices, and implementing encryption protocols for email communication.


Encryption is the process of converting sensitive information into a format that is incomprehensible without the appropriate decryption key. Encryption is significant in trade secret protection as it prevents unauthorized individuals from accessing and understanding confidential information.


There are various encryption methods and algorithms available for trade secret protection. These include symmetric encryption, asymmetric encryption, hashing algorithms, and key management systems. The choice of encryption method depends on the specific needs and requirements of a company.


Implementing encryption for trade secret protection may present challenges, such as key management, compatibility issues, performance impacts, and user adoption. It is essential to carefully consider these challenges and address them effectively in employee training and company protocols to ensure the successful implementation of encryption measures. An intellectual property lawyer can help you design and implement favorable encryption tools and standards to protect your business.

Other Methods


In addition to non-disclosure agreements, non-compete agreements, security protocols, and encryption standards, there are several other methods that businesses can employ to protect trade secrets. These methods include limiting internal access to trade secrets, restricted distribution on a need-to-know basis, regular monitoring and audits, trade secret identification and labeling, and collaboration with third-party experts.


Limiting Internal Access


Access to trade secrets or other intellectual property should be limited to only those employees who require such access to perform their duties. This reduces the risk of unauthorized individuals gaining access to sensitive information as well as the risk of accidental or unauthorized disclosure.


Regular Monitoring And Audits


Regular monitoring and audits help detect any unauthorized access or suspicious activities related to trade secrets. This allows businesses to promptly respond to potential breaches and mitigate any potential damage.


Trade Secret Identification and Labeling


Trade secrets should be clearly identified and labeled to ensure that employees and stakeholders are aware of their confidential nature. Clear labeling helps prevent accidental disclosure and ensures that trade secrets receive the necessary protection. Furthermore, clear identification and labeling can serve as evidence of knowledge that the information was not to be disclosed.


Collaboration With Third-Party Experts


Engaging third-party experts, such as legal professionals, cybersecurity specialists, or consultants, can provide valuable guidance and expertise in trade secret protection. Experts can help businesses develop effective protection strategies and ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.


Protecting trade secrets is crucial for businesses to maintain their competitive advantage and safeguard their valuable intellectual property. While copyright and trademark registration offer certain forms of protection, additional measures are necessary to protect trade secrets effectively. Through non-disclosure agreements, non-compete agreements, security protocols, encryption standards, and other methods, businesses can create a multi-faceted approach to trade secret protection. By implementing these strategies, businesses can mitigate the risk of trade secret misappropriation, ensure long-term success, and maintain their position in the market. Utilizing our extensive intellectual property, technology, and cyber security experience, our experienced intellectual property lawyers can help you navigate the complex issues of trade secrets and intellectual property as a whole.

Security Protocols
Other Methods

Hire A Maryland Trade Secret Attorney

The above article provides a legal discussion of protection trade secrets in the United States. It is not legal advice. It is wise to consult a Maryland or DC intellectual property attorney to better protect your trade secrets.



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