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 High costs, legal challenges involving trade secret theft, and a fatal accident had beset the subsidiary. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Google and China duke it out over ‘quantum supremacy’," 8 Dec. 2020 Waymo, Google's self-driving company, later sued Uber for alleged trade secret and intellectual property theft. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "Vaccines will jumpstart the global economy. It may not feel like a boom," 8 Dec. 2020 Martin Tripp will admit to violating trade secret laws and pay $400,000. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "No sign of a slowdown in the 2021 IPO rush," 2 Dec. 2020 Tesla sued Tripp for violating trade secret and computer crime laws. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Tesla wins key ruling in legal battle against former employee," 18 Sep. 2020 The initiative has resulted in several successful prosecutions for hacking and data and trade secret theft, for everything from aviation technology to rice engineering. Christian Berthelsen,, "Prosecutors Say They’re Spies, But Charges Tell a Different Story," 22 Oct. 2020 In exchange for a promise not to sue, Qualcomm demanded that rivals provide access to their sales data, which is normally considered a sensitive trade secret. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Appeals court ruling for Qualcomm “a victory of theory over facts”," 14 Aug. 2020 There are also trade secret agreements for senior investment officials. Katherine Burton, Fortune, "The losses continue to pile up for hedge fund king Ray Dalio," 15 Sep. 2020 The appeals court ruled that HouseCanary’s fraud and misappropriation of trade secret claims should be sent back to state District Court for a new trial. Patrick Danner,, "San Antonio appeals court issues revised opinion in case that produced $706M jury verdict," 27 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for trade secret

Time Traveler

The first known use of trade secret was in 1825

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Statistics for trade secret

Last Updated

24 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Trade secret.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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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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