Why would you keep secrets? There is one form of intangible asset within companies which by definition must be kept secret. A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, commercial method, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable by others, and by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers. The scope of trade secrets is virtually unlimited. A trade secret continues for as long as the information is maintained as a secret.