An artist who discovers a new process of painting, etching or sculpting for example may be able to protect their innovation under trade secret law. You can also protect customer lists. You will find a trade secret law in every state in the United States. This is very important for artists as it is the most inexpensive way for an artists to protect many of their secrets, you will find that this is also the easiest way. This type of protection, however does have limits.
To be able to protect the information it must be a) secret b) substantial in nature c) valuable. you may protect customer lists, methods of doing business, methods and techniques of making or protecting artwork, material lists, material formulas, artistic techniques, and other information that is gathered and unknown to others. Artistic techniques that can be seen such as pottery shapes and color combinations and can be easily copied by others are not protected. This process is known as Reversed engineering and the law permits it unless it is a patent which you can find under patents.
An artist can protect a development under trade secret law only if it can somehow be kept secret. If an artist invents a particular process and keeps that process secret a competitor could not determine the secret by looking at the product.
The need for secrecy may at first offend an artist's sensibilities. Shared
thoughts and techniques and developments strengthen the artistic community
and lead to increased creation in all fields of art. Artists that know of the
trade secret law
hopefully will not try and keep every little technique to themselves. Should this happen it will only injure the artistic community, however if you should at sometime discover a technique that is valuable innovative and worthy of protecting then you should be aware of the trade secret law in your area.
An artist may protect his or her technique for reasons other than money. They may protect a technique to protect others from misusing the idea and competing unfairly. The artist may want to sell the information for profit.
Trade secret information can last for short periods of time such as minutes or you may find they last decades. The law will keep this a secret as long as it is not discovered in some legal way.
If you do develop a trade secret you must take every reasonable step to keep it secret. As far as what it costs, it may vary from state to state and you will find that it really is inexpensive and does not cost much more than your time or effort.
If you use your technique in your studio then you should take steps as to who can access the studio. Keep all documents locked away in an envelope and you should place a stamp of some kind to mark it as yours. state that it is confidential and not to be copied without express written permission or used for any purpose without the written consent of yourself. If other people have access to your information then they should be required to keep this information confidential and not disclose it to anyone. If at some time you should want to disclose this information to perhaps a buyer then they should sign a written agreement of confidentiality. This should be signed before disclosing the information not after the disclosure.
eg; The undersigned_______________ in consideration for the disclosure, review, and observation of the trade secret and confidential know-how of __________(your name ) promises to hold in confidence and not to reproduce, divulge or use any and all trade secrets and unpublished know-how observed by or given to him by (your name ) , or his agents or representatives, concerning (general description of your trade secret) without the written consent of ( your name )
It is important that you take as many of these steps as are reasonable. If
you do not then the courts simply will not be able to protect you.
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