Trade Secret Dispute Attorneys in Dayton, Ohio
Probably the ultimate example of a trade secret is the formula for Coca-Cola, which is reportedly locked in a vault in the company’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, where only two people have access to it.
The Coke example is illustrative of what constitutes a trade secret. To be considered a trade secret, it must constitute proprietary information not known to the public from which the holding company derives economic value and to which the company applies extraordinary efforts to protect.
Companies who feel their trade secret has been misappropriated (i.e., stolen or acquired illegally) will often go to court to protect their economic interests. Trade secrets are protected both by federal and state statutes. Ohio has adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), while the federal government passed the Economic Espionage Act of 1996.
If you are involved in a trade secret dispute in or around Dayton, Ohio, whether as the holder of a trade secret or someone accused of infringing on one, contact Duwel Law. Our business law attorneys will meet with you, investigate the circumstances of the dispute, and provide you with legal counsel and representation to resolve the issue.
Duwel Law also proudly serves clients throughout Montgomery County, Miami County, Greene County, Darke County, and Warren County, Ohio.
What Qualifies as a Trade Secret?
According to the UTSA, a trade secret is “information, including the whole or any portion or phase of any scientific or technical information, design, process, procedure, formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or improvement, or any business information or plans, financial information, or listing of names, addresses, or telephone numbers,” contingent upon:
Providing independent economic value to the holder, and is not readily ascertainable by proper means independently, and
Being safeguarded using reasonable means to maintain its secrecy.
Reasonable Measures to Protect Trade Secrets
You don’t necessarily have to install a dedicated vault to stash away your trade secret information, but the UTSA requires that you make reasonable efforts. This means that the proprietary information should be maintained in a locked file, or if in digital format, password protected. The password should be shared only with persons with a need to know. Encryption is another option, but in whatever situation, the information must be marked “confidential.”
Another step is to have employees with access to the trade secret sign nondisclosure agreements (NDAs). Even if employees sign NDAs, if they choose to resign and take a job elsewhere, or start their own business, you should conduct an exit interview to remind them of their obligations under the NDA.
What Protections Do Trade Secrets Have?
The UTSA allows the owner of a trade secret to obtain a court injunction to prevent the misappropriation or threatened misappropriation of their trade secret. You can also obtain compensation for any losses you sustained by the misappropriation of your trade secret.
In addition, if the misappropriation is considered willful or malicious by the court, punitive damages – sometimes up to three times the amount of actual losses – can be levied against the misappropriator. Repayment of your attorney’s fees can also be ordered.
Trade Secret Misappropriation
The UTSA uses misappropriation as the legal term for obtaining a trade secret through “improper means,” which include “theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach or inducement of a breach of a duty to maintain secrecy, or espionage through electronic or other means.”
The misappropriation does not have to be directly accomplished by the person or entity that ends up with it through improper means. The trade secret can also be obtained through the disclosure of the trade secret by another person who illicitly obtained it, for example, a former employee.
Trade Secret Dispute Attorneys Serving Dayton, Ohio
If you feel your trade secret has been misappropriated, or if someone is accusing you of misappropriation, contact Duwel Law immediately so we can launch the legal initiatives you need to protect yourself. You can count on us to guide you in the proper direction, whichever side of the dispute you’re on. Duwel Law proudly serves clients throughout Dayton, Montgomery County, Miami County, Greene County, Darke County, and Warren County, Ohio.