A trade secret is a process, method, plan, formula or other information unique to a manufacturer, which has value due to the market advantage over competitors it produces. Use or disclosure of a trade secret by an employee, former employee, or anyone else may be prohibited by a court-ordered injunction. The owner of a trade secret may seek damages against such a person for revealing the secret. Also, when trade secrets are involved in a lawsuit, a "protective order" may be requested from the judge to prohibit revelation of a trade secret or a sealing of the record in the case where references to the trade secret are made. A trade secret is separate from and covered under different law from a patentable invention. Trade secrets include, among others, business assets such as financial data, customer lists, marketing strategies, and information and processes not known to the general public.
Under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, trade secrets are defined as follows:
""Trade secret" means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process that: (1) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being easily ascertainable by proper means, by other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and (2) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under circumstances to maintain its secrecy."