How To Protect a Trade Secret (or, calling Ocean's Eleven)

by Lee Gesmer on February 11, 2009

Clients often ask what measures they need to take to protect their trade secrets, should it be necessary to enforce them in court and prove that they were treated as secrets.

Here’s how Kentucky Fried Chicken does it, according to an AP story published today:

The recipe lays out a mix of 11 herbs and spices that coat the chain’s Original Recipe chicken, including exact amounts for each ingredient. It is written in pencil and signed by Harland Sanders.

The iconic recipe is now protected by an array of high-tech security gadgets, including motion detectors and cameras that allow guards to monitor the vault around the clock.

Thick concrete blocks encapsulate the vault, situated near office cubicles, that is connected to a backup generator to keep the security system operating in times of power outages.

The recipe is such a tightly held secret that not even Eaton knows its full contents. Only two company executives at any time have access to the recipe. KFC won’t release their names or titles, and it uses multiple suppliers who produce and blend the ingredients but know only a part of the entire contents.

“We’ve very comfortable with the security,” [KFC President Roger Eaton ]said. “I don’t think anyone can break into it.”

Hmmmm …. perhaps a real-life George Clooney will be interested. Of course, we don’t really know what’s in that vault, do we?

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