Trade secrets often protect valuable technical information that cannot be sheltered under other forms of intellectual property law, such as the formula for Coca-Cola. Trade secrets may also:
- protect ideas that offer a business a competitive advantage, thereby enabling a company or individual to get a head start on the competition -- for example, an idea for a new type of product or a new website
- keep competitors from learning that a product or service is under development and from discovering its functional or technical attributes -- for example, how a new software program works
- protect valuable business information such as marketing plans, cost and price information and customer lists -- for example, a company's plans to launch a new product line
- protect "negative know-how" -- that is, information you've learned during the course of research and development on what not to do or what does not work optimally -- for example, research revealing that a new type of drug is ineffective, or
- protect any other information that has some value and is not generally known by your competitors -- for example, a list of customers ranked by how profitable their business is.