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

If Congress or the business community bark loudly, President Trump will have to back down despite his desire to change Chinese trade and business behavior, including theft of trade secrets. Phillip Molnar,, "Can the U.S. economy withstand a trade war?," 13 July 2018 In 2015, the Obama administration and the Chinese agreed to not steal trade secrets for the benefit of domestic companies. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Why Trump Might Lose His Trade War With China," 9 July 2018 That came a month after the U.S. company filed a lawsuit in California alleging Jinhua and UMC stole Micron’s trade secrets at its Taiwan plant. Austen Hufford, WSJ, "Micron to Challenge Chinese Court Ruling Over Alleged Patent Infringement," 5 July 2018 The new crimes include stealing trade secrets on behalf of foreign government, which is punishable by 15 years in prison. Rod Mcguirk, Fox News, "Australia bans covert foreign interference in politics," 28 June 2018 In March, Match, which was recently granted patents related to the swipe and the design of the Tinder app, filed its suit against Bumble, accusing it of patent infringement and stealing trade secrets. Leigh Gallagher, Fortune, "Match Is the Sweetheart of Online Dating—But Can It Fend Off Facebook and Bumble?," 27 June 2018 In a statement regarding Friday’s settlement, new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi maintained the company’s position that no trade secrets ever reached Uber’s offices. Pete Bigelow, Car and Driver, "Waymo and Uber Settle Their Legal Squabble and Now Might Be Friends," 9 Feb. 2018 Many journalists blame their troubles with obtaining public records on Gov. Rick Scott, who came into office from a private sector where trade secrets and not transparency are the norm. Glenn Garvin, miamiherald, "911: The Florida fight over which records are public | Miami Herald," 1 July 2016 Tesla's lawsuit, filed Wednesday in a Nevada federal court, accuses Tripp of hacking the company's computer systems in order to steal confidential photos and video of Tesla's manufacturing systems and other trade secrets. Drew Harwell, Anchorage Daily News, "Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor," 22 June 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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Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

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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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