Any information that does not require public dissemination outside of a company or is disclosed solely to individuals contractually or ethically bound to confidentiality can be protected as a trade secret. Business data, such as client lists, shortcuts, manufacturing data and processes, research and development data, and formulae not readily amenable to reverse engineering are the sort of subject matter that can be protected by trade secret. Even material of general knowledge that is useful or valuable for a particular purpose to your company can be protected.

Notable examples of trade secrets are the formula for Coca-Cola and for the batter/coating for the classical Kentucky Fried Chicken. You might elect to maintain a laboratory technique as a trade secret when offering a service. However, unlike other forms of intellectual property, once a trade secret is disclosed to the public, it can be difficult to suppress further dissemination of the secret, and your relief may be limited only to the person or persons who misappropriated the secret from you. If you expect any possible need to disseminate your trade secret, you may wish to consider other forms of legal protection.