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 Agents have lectured at seminars, briefed administrators in campus meetings and distributed pamphlets with cautionary tales of trade secret theft. oregonlive, "US academics on front line of battle against Chinese technology theft," 6 Oct. 2019 Anthony Levandowski Silicon Valley engineer is indicted and charged with stealing self-driving car technology from Google and giving it to Uber in a trade secrets case that could land him in prison for decades. Mercury News Staff, The Mercury News, "Latest line: VTA a winner, Anthony Levandowski a loser," 1 Sep. 2019 Ford’s lawsuit also argues that all of the defendants violated Florida’s trade secrets act. Michael Mccann,, "Analyzing the $100 Million Lawsuit Against Zion Williamson and CAA," 20 June 2019 These include the extent to which the U.S. will roll back tariffs on Chinese imports as well as specific Chinese pledges to protect the intellectual property and trade secrets of U.S. companies. David J. Lynch, Anchorage Daily News, "China, U.S. make progress in trade talks, raising hopes of a breakthrough," 7 Nov. 2019 Hinch considers the presentation a trade secret, not surprising for an organization whose analytics team employed former NASA biomathematician Sig Mejdal, now with Baltimore. Ronald Blum,, "How did Gerrit Cole — unbeaten since May — become one of baseball’s best pitchers? A 1-hour class on analytics.," 15 Oct. 2019 Secret agents: Ohio is among 28 states that allow oil and gas producers to keep from the public the list of drilling and franking chemicals considered trade secrets, the Dispatch’s Beth Burger reports. Laura Hancock,, "Gun bills to get first Ohio legislative hearings after Dayton shooting: Capitol Letter," 17 Sep. 2019 The Trump administration is fighting the Chinese regime over allegations that Beijing steals trade secrets, forces foreign companies to hand over technology and unfairly subsidizes its own firms. Washington Post, "Trump delays tariffs on some Chinese goods until December," 13 Aug. 2019 Fragrances are considered a trade secret and, therefore, do not have to be disclosed. Olivia Fleming & Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Ultimate Guide to Clean Beauty," 12 Aug. 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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The first known use of trade secret was in 1825

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Statistics for trade secret

Last Updated

29 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Trade secret.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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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.

Comments on trade secret

What made you want to look up trade secret? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


very cautious or careful

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