How Trade Secrets Affect Your Business
This year has been a banner year for intellectual property legislation and judicial decisions. For example, patent law has seen big changes to long established legal precedent. One of the big changes on the legislative front for trade secrets has been the passage and enactment of the 2016 Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA).
The term "trade secret" is little more than a gloried word for information that provides an economic benefit to a business where reasonable steps have been taken to keep the secret. This information can be in the form of a recipe, customer list, marketing plan, or a wide variety of technical and non-technical content.
Trade secrets are by far the most prevalent form of intellectual property, but I think is also, by far the most under utilized. Trade secret theft is estimated to cost US companies around $300 billion per year. It's no wonder legislation around trade secrets had been highly anticipated!
The Act is the surprising product of bipartisan and bicameral support, though the legislation had been pending for several years before it was signed into law in May of 2016. Essentially, the new law is a good thing for small and large businesses alike. The law provides the ability to bring a law suit in federal court, providing the company sells products or services either interstate or in the foreign marketplace.
When misappropriation of trade secrets has been found, the DTSA provides for the possibility of injunctive relief, monetary damages, as well as an actual seizure of the trade secret in question (in extraordinary circumstances).
Once a business owner discovers the wrongdoing, the trade secret owner only has 3 years to bring a claim.
Employee immunity from reporting violations involving company trade secrets to government regulators and authorities is one important provision that must be immediately addressed by employers who wish to recover certain types of remedies under the law.
The bottom line: Businesses can preserve company trade secrets for much less cost and effort than most other forms of intellectual property. Preventing bad actors is much simpler and cheaper than litigating wrong doing.
Contact Precipice IP, PLLC for your risk assessment today- Info@PrecipiceIP.com