You need a little background first, before I get to my point.
It turns out that I, not an attorney, have changed the law.
Trade secrets are an intellectual property, like copyrights, patents, and trademarks. For copyrights, patents, and trademarks, you only need to prove Use and Damages in court. Not so with trade secrets. Proving up a trade secret misappropriation case in court involves a lot more, and has always been something of an art form.
Twelve years ago, I formalized the proofs needed to prove up a trade secret misappropriation case in court in a restatement of the case law. In addition to Use and Damages, you need to prove Existence, Ownership, Notice, and Access, which I called the EONA Proofs. This was published in the first edition of Trade Secret Asset Management, a book I co-authored, in 2006.
The EONA Proofs are now being taught in law seminars, which surprised the hell out of my co-author the first time he saw the EONA Proofs come up in a legal conference several years back.
OK, so that’s weird enough. But I may have done it again. I wrote a little piece called “The Five Elements of Automated Trade Secret Asset Management.” It was incorporated in the 2018 edition of Trade Secret Asset Management. Those five elements are Taxonomy, Scoring, Metadata, History, and Proof. And they’re starting to gain traction.
Which brings me to the point of today’s essay. Maybe a dozen years back, a friend and I were talking to a young woman who had gone back to school to get a degree in System Administration, the business of deploying and running large computer systems. She wanted to know if we, who had both been in the computer field for decades, had any advice on extra courses she might take to make her stand out, either in getting a job or being successful at doing it. Our answer surprised her.
We both gave the same answer: Business Writing.
In just about any field you go into, sooner or later your upward career path is into management, and perhaps, after that, consulting. In management and consulting, you need to be able to write. Whether a proposal, or a plan, or a report, whether an email, or a paper, or a book, you have to be able to write. No matter how good your subject matter expertise, you can only affect the things you yourself do, the people you yourself talk to. To make your expertise most useful to others, you have to be able to communicate it effectively. In writing.
And that’s how people I have never met, in places I have never been, are teaching the EONA Proofs.