Insight on Manufacturing

November 2020

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w w s i g h t o n m f g . c o m November 2020 • /INSIGHT ON MANUFACTURING | 23 Keeping it secret When most people think of a trade secret, Kentucky Fried Chicken's seasoning or perhaps Google's search algorithm may come to mind, but businesses can label a process, product, recipe or more as a trade secret, and without paying a cent, keep that information inside an organization's walls. "You can label something a trade secret — maybe it's a recipe for a vegetable mix — and limit personnel access to the secret as one way to keep it safe," says Bendel, adding trade secrets are popular in food manufacturing. While there isn't a formal process to label something a trade secret akin to getting a patent, Bendel says businesses need to document how they're keeping it confidential within their facility. One way to do that is to make sure only a few people have access to the secret and that it's kept in a secure place, whether that's in a safe or on a protected server. Prestin says a product can never be considered a trade secret since once it hits the market, competitors will begin trying to reverse engineer it and make it their own. For example, the recipe for Coca- Cola is a trade secret, but there are other colas on the market. "Companies may look at Coke and then create their cola to mimic the original product, but no matter what, that off-brand, Pepsi or Royal Crown (RC) is never going to taste exactly like Coke," he says. Jensen says when something is labeled a trade secret, employees know they can't share that information with others. Employees also usually don't stay at the same company forever, so when someone who knows the trade secret leaves, he says it's important to remind him that the special recipe is a secret and can't be shared. "Of course, a person can't unlearn what they have learned, but that's where a non-compete contract may come into play," Jensen says. F "You need to do your research — or work with a patent attorney — to make sure the idea you are looking to patent isn't already under patent protection so you don't go through the process and end up wasting that money." — Stephen Jensen, senior IP attorney, Davis|Kuelthau WE'RE GROWING! We are looking for experienced service technicians and engineers to travel to our customers installing and repairing packaging machines for pharmaceutical products and consumer goods. Flexible schedules, competitive benefits, and a growing company celebrating 35 years in Green Bay, Wis and close to 100 years in Europe awaits. OPTIMA Machinery Corporation |1330 Contract Dr. Green Bay, WI 54304 | Phone 920-339-2222 |

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