Trade Secret Law
Trade secret law protection concerns methods‚ processes‚ or information that is valuable because it is kept secret. If a company develops an effective‚ efficient‚ or inexpensive process for performing an action‚ or a highly desired recipe or formula‚ the most valuable way to commercially exploit the creation may be to keep it a secret. By maintaining secrecy over that information‚ the creator can exercise a monopoly over his or her creation‚ potentially indefinitely. For more information, please see our what is a trade secret and trade secret litigation pages.
For example‚ one of the most notorious trade secrets is the formula for Coca-Cola. Rather than disclosing the formula and enabling others to profit from its creation‚ the Coca-Cola Company has protected the formula as a trade secret. Because it has successfully maintained the secrecy of its most valuable piece of intellectual property‚ the Coca-Cola Company is the only company on the market that manufactures and sells the desirable soft drink.
Trade secret law is largely governed by the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) which has been adopted by 45 states. In 2016 the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) was enacted which provides federal protection. Those states that have declined to adopt the UTSA follow common law and/or the Restatement of Torts trade secret provisions. Compared to the Restatement‚ the UTSA is considered simple and easy to apply as it focuses on reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy. Critics of the UTSA find that the detail of the Restatement offers better instruction to those attempting to maintain trade secrets.
Trade Secret Protection
At times it may be necessary for the owner of a trade secret to bring an action for trade secret misappropriation to enforce its intellectual property rights. A trade secret misappropriation action may arise if a trade secret is acquired or misappropriated through improper means. Improper means includes obtaining a trade secret through theft‚ bribery‚ misrepresentation‚ breach of fiduciary duty‚ or espionage. One may be liable for trade secret misappropriation for acquiring a trade secret through improper means or with knowledge that the information was acquired through improper means.
Often‚ in order to prove that a trade secret is valid‚ it must be disclosed to the court. In these situations‚ it is possible to obtain a protective order from the court preventing further disclosure. For more information see our trade secret litigation page.
If you have a trade secret issue, please feel free to contact us.