Reading: (CU2 M3) Trade Secrets
Copyright is another area of intellectual property law that has grown more controversial over the last twenty years, particularly with the rise of the World Wide Web. The Web has astronomically increased the availability of original written and creative material to the general public. For some, this easy access can cause confusion, creating the assumption that such material can be used by any person for any reason. Others have intentionally sought to bypass the protections available to such material. Some see the copyright protections available to creative work to be excessively restrictive. Through various efforts, they attempt to promote the availability of creative works through open copyright licenses. In this section, familiarize yourself with the protections that U.S. law provides to copyright holders. Note also how digital copyright licenses can further restrict the use of digital media. As always, pay attention to the remedies for copyright infringement and the defenses to such a claim.
Trade secret laws generally protect businesses that wish to maintain the confidentiality of such things as formulas, processes, or client lists because of the important economic value these things provide. Unlike trademark, patent, or copyright law, trade secret laws in the United States are dealt with in state, not federal, legislation. Be aware of both the civil and criminal penalties that go with stealing a trade secret, as well as potential defenses against such claims.
Please read The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business: Chapter 9 Section 5 (Copyrights) and Section 3 (Trade Secrets) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (PDF)