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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The precise details are a trade secret. Matti Friedman, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Dec. 2022 But the State Supreme Court sided against him and with NorthPointe, blocking scrutiny of COMPAS on the basis that its precise operation is a trade secret. Dan Greene, IEEE Spectrum, 21 Nov. 2018 This includes frequent attacks to gain access to the West’s key companies and their trade secrets, as well as rapidly improving its capability to shape the world’s narratives via both overt and covert means. Alex Stamos, CNN, 23 Mar. 2023 The judge's findings were partly redacted because the companies' pricing algorithms are considered proprietary trade secrets. John Lynch, Arkansas Online, 25 Feb. 2023 Tensions between Australia and China have escalated in recent months over trade negotiations, and the pattern of aggressive espionage campaigns and trade secret theft is reminiscent of hacking initiatives China has launched against countries around the world. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, 3 July 2020 The 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio reversed a trial court’s judgment on real estate analytic firm HouseCanary’s fraud and misappropriation of trade secret claims against Amrock Inc., a Detroit home appraisal company affiliated with Quicken Loans. Patrick Danner,, 3 June 2020 Companies seeking certification will not have to give up their source code or similarly sensitive trade secrets. IEEE Spectrum, 10 Sep. 2019 But this might require the tweaking of current laws to help find suitable substitutes, like confidentiality agreements and trade secret laws. Tom Spiggle, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'trade secret.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1825, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of trade secret was in 1825

Dictionary Entries Near trade secret

Cite this Entry

“Trade secret.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

Legal Definition

trade secret

trade se·​cret
: 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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