Trade Secrets
  
What is a trade secret?

A “trade secret” includes “information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that: (i) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and (ii) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.” Uniform Trade Secrets Act, § 1.4.   A “trade secret” includes “all forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic, or engineering information.” Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1839(3).
 
Trade Secrets vs. Patents

One of the differences between protecting your intellectual property by trade secret law instead of patent law is the duration of protection.  The term of a U.S. patent is 20 years from the filing date of the patent application.  The term of protection of a trade secret is for as long as you can keep it a secret.  One of the risks of choosing trade secret protection is that a competitor can reverse engineer your product and discover your trade secret.  We can discuss your technology with you and advise you on whether you should protect your innovations through patent or trade secret law, or perhaps as part of a comprehensive IP strategy that employs one or more other forms of intellectual property, such as copyright, trademarks, or trade dress.


Keep it a secret!

If you choose trade secret protection, it is important that you implement safe guards and procedures to maintain the secrecy of the trade secret.  Examples of things you can do include stamping documents containing the trade secret as “CONFIDENTIAL”, restricting access to the trade secret only to those employees who have a “need to know” the trade secret, keeping the trade secret in a secure and locked location, etc.
 
Customer Lists, Marketing Plans & the Departing Employee

Examples of trade secrets that routinely come into play when employees leave a company and go to work for a competing business are customer lists, engineering drawings and marketing plans.  We can sue the departing employees and their new employer for trade secret misappropriation and seek immediate injunctive relief to prevent them from using your trade secrets.  Or if you are the departing employee or new employer that has been sued, we can defend you in court.  We can also help put you in the best position to prepare for the departing employee by implementing strong employment agreements.

Finally, let us help you develop policies for onboarding new employees to confirm they are not bringing trade secrets from their former employers.  In this way, we can help you head off the potential exposure of being sued for trade secret misappropriation.

Call us for a trade secret audit!
 
Contact us for a free initial consultation regarding your trade secrets.  We can schedule a time to conduct an audit of your specific situation and develop a set of company policies and procedures for safe guarding your trade secrets, including implementing employment agreements with the necessary confidentiality provisions to protect your company if departing employees steal your trade secrets, or preparing “Non-Disclosure” agreements if it becomes necessary for you to share your trade secrets with others as part of conducting your business.