A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers. A trade secret is defined by the particular state in which it is being prosecuted. In most states the elements of a trade secret are: (1) is not generally known to the public; (2) confers some sort of economic benefit on its holder (where this benefit must derive specifically from its not being generally known, not just from the value of the information itself); and (3) is the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.
Trade Secret Questions
A trade secret is protected through the use of contracts, primarily non-compete and non-disclosure agreements.
You should only use a trade secret instead of a patent if there is no possibility your idea could be discovered or reverse engineered.