What do Coca-Cola, Whole Foods and 5-Hour Energy have in common? They all maintain trade secrets to protect their brands and market their products. Trade secrets are integral to a company’s brand. Once in government hands, however, a company’s trade secret is vulnerable to inadvertent or purposeful disclosure through leaks or Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
A trade secret is a form of intellectual property (IP) that derives its economic value by not being generally known. For some companies, trade secrets serve as their most valuable assets. Once released – even if a court determines that the release was criminal or negligent – the trade secret permanently loses its value.