Protecting Mission-Critical Business Information
There may be no other category of assets that is more important to a business than its trade secrets. Proprietary processes, computer programs, chemical formulas, client lists, and other trade secrets create a company’s advantage over its competitors. If these secrets are stolen, copied, or misused in any way, any advantage they provide is gone.
If you feel that your trade secrets are being misused by a former employee or a competitor, the litigation attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett are ready to help. We have a great deal of experience with disputes involving alleged unfair competition and the misappropriation of trade secrets. Our lawyers also defend clients accused of stealing trade secrets or similar wrongdoing.
What Is Considered a Trade Secret?
Trade secrets can include a wide range of confidential information. This type of intellectual property gives companies an advantage over their competitors, but only if this information is kept secret. The value of a trade secret is that the information is kept within a company. However, while many businesses may have private information that helps set them apart from their competitors, this alone does not make it a trade secret.
For information to be considered a trade secret, the company must make an effort to protect the information. Whether or not a company has taken any steps to ensure this information is kept confidential can affect if it can be considered an actual trade secret.
How Are Trade Secrets Protected?
Unlike other forms of IP, trade secrets do not have to be filed with any outside organizations, like you would with a patent or copyright. Instead, trade secrets need to be identified and protected internally. Trade secrets can also be protected for an unlimited amount of time, unlike other forms of IP. For example, a company may require employees to sign a confidentiality agreement before learning trade secrets.
Trade Secret Misappropriation
Trade secret misappropriation occurs when someone improperly acquires or discloses a trade secret. This can have many different forms, including breach of contract, espionage, bribery, theft, fraud, and gross negligence.
However, it is possible that someone discovers a trade secret legitimately. While the company may believe they have the right to sue over trade secret misappropriation, the individual who discovered the trade secret could have done so legally. This can lead to complicated cases where individuals and companies are wrongfully accused of misappropriating a trade secret.