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

Waymo sued Uber, arguing that Levandowski had taken Waymo trade secrets with him on the way out the door. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Uber’s controversial self-driving truck division shuts down," 31 July 2018 Federal prosecutors unsealed a pair of indictments Monday, charging the Chinese technology company Huawei with crimes including bank fraud, sanctions violations and theft of trade secrets. Mike Rogers, WSJ, "The 5G Promise and the Huawei Threat," 28 Jan. 2019 The case centers around Apple’s accusation that Qualcomm is illegally taking a cut of each iPhone sold with Qualcomm’s modem technology inside; Qualcomm alleges that Apple stole trade secrets and gave them to Intel. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Trump and Xi Jinping reach a temporary trade-war truce," 3 Dec. 2018 Also of note: Uber is investing alongside Alphabet—whose self-driving car unit Waymo was previously in a legal battle with Uber over trade secrets. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "Term Sheet -- Tuesday, July 10," 10 July 2018 Related Optum has been trying to stop Mr. Smith, who spent 2-and-½ years working in Optum’s corporate strategy and product units, from working at the new venture or sharing trade secrets, alleging his job change violated a noncompete agreement. Anna Wilde Mathews, WSJ, "UnitedHealth Employee Cleared to Join Health Venture of Amazon, Berkshire, JPMorgan," 22 Feb. 2019 Patient Costs Drug plans have said that rebates make their way back to patients in the form of lower monthly insurance premiums, and have called the opaque contracts a necessary trade secret. Anna Edney,, "‘Rigged’ System Blocks Use of Lower-Cost Drugs, FDA Chief Says," 7 Mar. 2018 Interior designers always have a trade secret or two up their sleeves. Laura Regensdorf, ELLE Decor, "A Decorators' Favorite for Fabrics," 31 May 2011 NDAs are used for a whole variety of reasons, but, companies use them to protect trade secrets, for example. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "What Happens If You Break an NDA? Jordyn Woods Is Reportedly About to Find Out," 28 Feb. 2019

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

17 May 2019

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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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using a distributed computer network

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