i have learned that " Contrary to patents, trade secrets are protected without registration, that is, trade secrets require no procedural formalities for their protection. A trade secret can be protected for an unlimited period of time, unless it is discovered or legally acquired by others and disclosed to the public. For these reasons, the protection of trade secrets may appear to be particularly attractive for certain companies. There are, however, some conditions for the information to be considered a trade secret. source

So, if a competitive company stole an idea from another company and says it has discovered such idea, what the original company have with them to demand the Intellectual property, as they haven't registered or disclosed certain idea.

1 Answer 1


It is, of course, illegal to "steal" trade secrets. It is, of course, difficult to prove they were stolen. This is one of the disadvantages of a trade secret over, say, a patent.

Even if the secret entered the public domain illegally (by being stolen, say) anyone who was not a party to the illegal act (e.g. they read it on a web page) can legally use it - the owner only has recourse against the criminal.

  • 2
    Also, it is entirely legal to "reverse engineer" a trade secret by legally buying, e.g., a bottle of coca cola or KFC chicken, and then using analytical chemistry to determine precisely what ingredients are part of a "secret formula" in what proportions.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 14, 2017 at 22:53
  • @ohwilleke unless the contract or license says you can't
    – Dale M
    Jun 14, 2017 at 23:49
  • Generally speaking, you can't impose a prohibition on reverse engineering in a retail sale of a good in a trade secret variation on the first sale doctrine applicable to patents.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 15, 2017 at 0:11

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