Attorney Gene Quinn's article "Identifying and Protecting Trade Secrets" explains what are intellectual property assets, emphasizes the importance of identifying such assets in every single trade or small business, and persuades the reader to take legal action to protect these assets from malignant use.
Quinn argues that the average business owner takes many things for granted: the name of the business, the style of operation, the products that are available, and the culture of the business are things that are considered entitlements, more than anything.
However, there is another side to this: it just so happens that these very factors mentioned as "entitlements" are, in fact, trademarks of each individual business and must be protected through either trade law or copyright law, or by a patent, depending on what is being protected.
The article mentions how anybody has the same right to open a business. What if some of the unique things that take place in your own place of business are repeated by someone else? The only way to make a claim is if the intellectual property has been protected in the first place.
To emphasize on the importance of extrapolating your business culture, consider the following:
What if you are a bar owner and you create a "house" special drink. With proper permission, you could trademark this asset as one that is unique to your bar. Otherwise, any bartender can quit your bar, set up somewhere else and claim the drink as his own. This has been the story of many other creations which, sadly, have never seen their true creator due to trademark issues.
Therefore, the article can be summarized in its entirety by its last sentences:
Once the secret is out you lose any and all rights, so treat that information accordingly. Trade secrets are fragile and irreplaceable