trade secret


Definition of trade secret 

: something (such as a formula) which has economic value to a business because it is not generally known or easily discoverable by observation and for which efforts have been made to maintain secrecy

Examples of trade secret in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

These concepts are proprietary trade secrets, but ultimately, these advances will make their way into production machines. Mitchell Nicholson, Popular Mechanics, "The Great American Motorcycle Racing Revival," 7 Sep. 2018 Blends are typically considered trade secrets and can contain numerous ingredients (mainly oils and alcohols), none of which have to be revealed on the label. Allure, "The Skin-Care Glossary: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything You Need to Know," 17 Aug. 2018 Bumble also claims in its countersuit that Match only pursued the initial acquisition to steal trade secrets from the company. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "Bumble is slowly backing off on its $400 million lawsuit against Match Group," 2 Nov. 2018 In addition, Desktop Metal alleges that one of its interns stole trade secrets and handed them over to Markforged. Hiawatha Bray,, "3D printing companies clash in federal court," 13 July 2018 The extensive legislation adds 38 new crimes to the record, including stealing trade secrets on behalf of a foreign government, and broaden the definitions of existing crimes like espionage. New York Times, "Australian Law Targets Foreign Interference. China Is Not Pleased.," 28 June 2018 Under Pennsylvania law, disclosure of a trade secret can be classified as unlawful misappropriation when the person who made the disclosure had a duty to keep such information confidential. Michael Mccann,, "The Potential Legal Consequences of Bryan Colangelo's Twitter Controversy," 30 May 2018 No one doubts that companies with valuable trade secrets, like Google, Coca-Cola and many others, should be allowed to compel certain vital employees to sign noncompetes as a condition of employment. Alan S. Blinder, WSJ, "What to Do When the Labor Market Stops Working for Workers," 11 June 2018 One is that non-competes encourage innovation by stopping rivals waltzing off with trade secrets; there is some evidence that levels of investment are higher at firms where they are used. The Economist, "The case against non-compete clauses," 17 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trade secret.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of trade secret

1825, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for trade secret

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for trade secret

The first known use of trade secret was in 1825

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More Definitions for trade secret

trade secret


English Language Learners Definition of trade secret

: something (such as a special way of doing or making something) that is known only by the company that uses it and is protected from competitors

trade secret

trade se·​cret

Legal Definition of trade secret 

: a formula, process, device, or item of information used by a business that has economic value because it is not generally known or easily discovered by observation or examination and for which reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy have been made

Note: Trade secrets are a form of intellectual property. Many states have enacted laws which create an action for damages or injunctive relief against misappropriation of trade secrets by improper means. Information contained in a patent is not protected as a trade secret.

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