Actively Keeping Secrets from Creditors: Evidence from The Uniform Trade Secrets Act
97 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2017 Last revised: 13 Oct 2020
Date Written: September 24, 2020
We find that an increase in a firm’s incentives to use trade secrets to protect its intellectual property results in a more actively managed capital structure. Exploiting U.S. states’ adoption of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act as a positive “shock” in the protection afforded to trade secrets, we find that firms covered by the Act reduce debt levels while increasing investments in intangibles. Additional tests suggest that firms fund these financing and investment activities by issuing more equity. Consistent with an increase in overall intangibility magnifying contracting problems with creditors, we find that covered firms experience higher costs of debt.
Keywords: Trade secrets, intangibles, capital structure, financing, asset pledgeability
JEL Classification: G32, G33, K22, O31, O32, O34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation