When many think of trade secrets, they think of the formula for Coca-Cola, KFC's 11 herbs and spices, or Google's search algorithm. But the world of trade secrets goes far beyond these famous examples. In fact, chances are good that your business, large or small, has trade secrets worth protecting.
What Is a Trade Secret?
Trade secrets enjoy strong legal protections, and the importance of trade secrets is growing. Under federal law and the laws of most states, a trade secret is competitively valuable information that:
Trade Secrets Include Customer and Business Information
Trade secrets are not the exclusive domain of tech companies. Businesses in every industry gather and use information every day that can potentially be protected under trade secret law, including:
Different states take different approaches to the payment of referral fees between attorneys. I am fortunate to practice in Michigan, where referral fees are permitted, within certain limitations.
I think it's important for colleagues and clients to know where I stand on attorney referral fees. As I have said, before, I believe the referral fees are a win-win-win. When done right, they are:
Referral fees are particularly important for smaller law firms and solo practitioners--and the clients who hire them. Large firms essentially have a parallel system: A client will call a lawyer at the firm, and if that lawyer is not suited to the matter, the lawyer will pass it on to a colleague within the firm with the necessary expertise. And both will be compensated—the first lawyer for originating the work, the second for performing the work. Referral fees allow smaller firms and their clients to enjoy similar benefits.
Law and the Creative Economy is the blog of lawyer Maxwell Goss. This blog is for informational purposes only.