Streamline your tax compliance with our expert-assisted GSTR 9 & 9C services @ ₹14,999/-

Tax efficiency, interest avoidance, and financial control with advance payment @ 4999/-
Trade License

Can Trade Secrets Be Protected In India?

In the world of intellectual property, trade secrets hold immense value, and their protection is crucial. This blog deals with the topic of protecting trade secrets, covering two significant acts—the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) and the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA).

Trade secrets are a vital part of the Intellectual Property rights of a company. These trade secrets have a direct relationship with the growth of the company. Usually, these refer to various aspects such as device, instrument, data, design, formula, practice, etc. depending on the genre of business, and are not meant to be disclosed to any third person. You will understand the importance of protecting trade secrets from here.

Trade secrets are considered to be a part of the Intellectual Property of the company as it amounts to the company’s growth. Generally, a trade secret is referred to as a practice, process, formula, design, device, instrument, or a collection of data or information regarding the business which will not be disclosed to the public. The owner tries to keep it a secret and confidential as it derives economic value and advantage among other competitors in the market. Thus, a trade secret is defined as a secret that is not generally accessible by people and must have a commercial value as a secret and the owner should take steps to maintain it. For instance, in the popular beverage company, Coco Cola’s Coke formula; KFC’s fried chicken the company says “secret herbs” is a formula that is maintained as a trade secret.

What Is Confidential Information?

One party may disclose confidential information to the other party in the course of business, but it must not be disclosed to the public. The idea of “confidential information” is based on the doctrine of the law of confidence and the equitable principle, which states that the person who receives the information may not use it unfairly to their disadvantage or the disadvantage of the person who provided it without that person’s consent.

Define Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are secrets of any trade or industry that are known only to a small number of people and have a commercial worth. Trade secrets are intellectual property rights on sensitive information that can be sold or licensed, according to WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). Contrary to other Intellectual Property Rights, trade secrets are not subject to registration.

The Components Of A Trade Secret

  • Being a secret, it ought to be valuable in the marketplace
  • Only a small number of people connected to the firm should be aware of it
  • The owner has taken appropriate measures to protect the information’s secrecy.

Browse through our articles on services provided at Vakilsearch, and just let us know if we can help you with your company registration or tax filing, or trademark registration.

Register a Company  PF Registration MSME Registration
Income Tax Return FSSAI registration Trademark Registration
ESI Registration ISO certification Patent Filing in India

How Can a Trade Secret Be Protected: An Overview

Protecting trade secrets is a critical concern for businesses and individuals seeking to safeguard valuable confidential information. This article provides an overview of two significant legal frameworks for trade secret protection: the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) and the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA). It explores various strategies and mechanisms that can be employed to protect trade secrets effectively.

The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA): Overview

The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) serves as a foundational legal framework for trade secret protection in the United States. It has been adopted in many states, providing consistency in trade secret laws across jurisdictions. The UTSA defines trade secrets and outlines the legal remedies available to businesses or individuals when their trade secrets are misappropriated.

Under the UTSA, trade secrets are broadly defined as valuable and confidential business information that derives its value from being secret. This includes formulas, designs, methods, processes, customer lists, and other non-public information that provides a competitive advantage.

Key provisions of the UTSA include:

Definition of Misappropriation: The UTSA defines misappropriation as the improper acquisition, disclosure, or use of a trade secret. It also covers the use of trade secrets acquired through a breach of duty or confidence.

Legal Remedies: The UTSA offers legal remedies for trade secret owners, including injunctive relief to prevent further misappropriation, damages for losses suffered due to misappropriation, and, in some cases, attorney’s fees.

Statute of Limitations: The UTSA sets a statute of limitations for filing trade secret misappropriation claims, typically ranging from one to five years, depending on the state.

Whistleblower Protections: The UTSA includes provisions to protect employees who disclose trade secrets to authorities when reporting violations of the law.

Safeguard Your Creations: Explore Our Intellectual Property Services Now!

The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA): Overview

The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) is a federal law enacted in 2016 that complements the UTSA and provides additional tools for trade secret protection at the federal level. The DTSA allows trade secret owners to bring civil actions in federal court, which can be advantageous in cases involving interstate or international trade secret theft.

Key provisions of the DTSA include:

Federal Jurisdiction: The DTSA grants federal courts jurisdiction over trade secret cases, enabling a more consistent and predictable legal process for trade secret litigations.

Ex Parte Seizure Orders: In extraordinary circumstances, the DTSA allows trade secret owners to seek ex parte seizure orders to prevent the propagation or dissemination of stolen trade secrets.

Remedies: The DTSA offers remedies similar to those provided by the UTSA, including injunctive relief, damages, and attorney’s fees.

Immunity for Whistleblowers: Similar to the UTSA, the DTSA includes provisions to protect whistleblowers who disclose trade secrets to government authorities for reporting violations of the law.

The protection of trade secrets is one of the important aspects in any country as it helps in Foreign Direct Investment too. Foreign investors ensure their trade secrets are well maintained before they make any investment in the country. The protection of this trade secret is challenging for the Indian Government as there is no proper legislation for the protection of trade secrets and hence India follows the old common law principles.

Common Law Principles

Yes, trade secrets can be protected in India. Trade secrets protection is approached on the basis of equity principle, breach of confidence, and contractual obligations.

  1. If the owner has revealed the trade secret to another independent person for the purpose to run the business in his absence, that person is not allowed to take advantage of it and involve in unfair trade practices. Thus, the employees who have access to trade secrets should be educated on the protection of trade secrets on the basis of equity principle
  1. The other person may be a business partner or in a key position, who knows the trade secret should also maintain it as a secret as the owner had full confidence and revealed the trade secrets; he is obliged to maintain it. Thus the protection of the trade secret is not restricted to the owner alone but also to the other person who knows it. If any person makes an attempt to breach that confidence, an injunction will be sent by the court.
  2. The employer should enter into a non-disclosure agreement or NDA with the person who knows the business secret so that he will be under contractual obligations not to reveal them.

Also, the Indian court – to protect the trade secret through the law of contracts. So the company usually enters into a contract with its employees stating that they are not supposed to reveal the trade secrets during the course of employment or even after their termination. In case of the absence of trade secrets in the contracts, an injunction will be issued on the basis of equity rule by the courts

The Various Legislations That Involve The Protection Of Business Secrets Are As Follows:

  1. If the data containing the details of the clients used in the literary work, if the person lets others use his work but has not revealed the facts then the other person uses the same concept and idea, it leads to copyright infringement. On the other hand, when the person to whom the trade secrets are shared starts a business and gives competition to the real owner, it amounts to copyright infringement. In this entire scenario, the trade secrets are revealed, the court will punish them under the Copyrights Act, 1957 with imprisonment for a minimum of 6 months to three months.
  1. If a person intentionally loots the trade secret by tampering with the computer languages, code, security, or program, then the court may punish them under the Information Technology Act, 2000 with imprisonment up to 3 years or with a fine of five lakh rupees or both.
  2. Any data which contains the trade secret is moved to others by way of dishonesty or fraudulent behavior of the employee. It amounts to a criminal breach of trust and will be punished under IPC for not more than seven years or a fine or both.

The Following Documents Should Be Signed For Protecting The Trade Secrets

  • Non-competition agreement and employee confidentiality agreement
  • Applicability of post-employment agreement
  • Non-disclosure agreement
  • Authorised disclosure by the Board of directors of the company
  • Termination of agreement and statement
  • Invention assignment agreement and its applicability
  • Injunction relief agreement


How is trade secrets protected in India?

Trade secrets in India are protected through non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), employee training, restricted access, documentation, exit protocols, and legal action if unauthorised disclosure occurs.

What kind of information is protected by trade secrets?

Trade secrets can encompass a wide range of information, including formulas, business plans, customer lists, software algorithms, product designs, marketing data, and financial information.

What qualifies as a trade secret?

For information to qualify as a trade secret, it must be kept confidential and have commercial value due to its secrecy.

What kind of protection does a trade secret offer?

Trade secret protection prevents unauthorized disclosure and use of confidential information, with legal remedies available for breaches.

How can a trade secret be protected?

Trade secrets can be protected by implementing NDAs, employee training, access restrictions, documentation, exit protocols, and pursuing legal action if necessary.

Which 3 elements are required to have a trade secret?

To have a trade secret, three key elements are necessary: secrecy, commercial value, and efforts to maintain secrecy.

What is an example of a trade secret?

An example of a trade secret could be a secret recipe for a popular food product, such as the Coca-Cola formula.

How are trade secrets protected?

Trade secrets are protected through confidentiality measures, legal agreements, and enforcement of non-disclosure obligations.

What are the requirements for trade secret protection?

Requirements for trade secret protection include maintaining confidentiality, demonstrating commercial value, and taking active measures to protect secrecy.

What are the rights conferred by trade secrets?

Trade secrets confer the right to prevent unauthorized disclosure or use of confidential information, and remedies such as damages and injunctions may be sought if rights are violated.


Well, trade secrets have to be safeguarded in India according to the Intellectual Property law practiced in the country. The Indian court protects trade secrets via the law of contracts. There are a few sets of documents associated with the protection of trade secrets. You should have these agreements intact and adhere to the law. If you need any legal help to do the procedure, Vakilsearch will be the right option. They are the number one experts in India.

Also, Read:

Subscribe to our newsletter blogs

Back to top button


Remove Adblocker Extension