A corporation’s intellectual property (IP) includes not only trademarks, copyrights, and patents, but also trade secrets and other types of information that should not be disclosed to others who are outside the company. The trade secrets of a business can only be protected if the business owner satisfies certain requirements. Moreover, businesses are not required to register trade secrets with a state or federal agency.
Even in cases where businesses have taken the necessary steps to protect their trade secrets, these business secrets are still susceptible to misappropriation by various individuals, including competitors, former employees, and current employees of the business entity.
If you believe that someone might have stolen one or more trade secrets from your business, the results can be costly if you do not take swift action. Detroit trade secrets litigation lawyer Maxwell Goss of Maxwell Goss Law is ready to help. Our firm works to resolve corporate trade secrets disputes effectively and efficiently through settlement, litigation, or alternative dispute resolution.
Defining Trade Secrets
Trade secrets belonging to a corporation or other business entity include various types of information, such as product formulas and designs. Trade secrets also include confidential information about a business entity, including customer lists, financial information, and operating procedures of the business.
In order for a business secret to qualify as a trade secret, the information needs to have some type of economic value. In addition, the business entity must have taken all of the necessary steps to safeguard the information and keep it confidential. Finally, the information that is at issue must have been unique to the corporation and must not have been generally known by others who are outside of the corporation.
Reasonable measures used to protect a trade secret typically include having individuals sign nondisclosure agreements to protect the information. Once a nondisclosure agreement is signed, the signer should not disclose the protected information to other individuals who are outside the corporation.
It is critical that you take steps to protect your trade secrets – otherwise, you will have no right to hold others liable for exposing that confidential information. Never hesitate to seek legal guidance on adequate protections, as well as when you believe misappropriation might have occurred.
Steps to Take if You Think Your Businesses’ Trade Secrets were Misappropriated by a Third-Party Individual or Another Company
Many businesses take numerous steps to help ensure that their trade secrets will not be misappropriated by a partner, vendor, employee, or someone who is not a part of the organization. In some instances, the individual or entity doing the misappropriation will try and use the information for his or her own financial gain, often to the detriment of the business. In cases where a competing entity steals information that they knew or should have known was a trade secret, you might be able to file a claim against the competing entity for the monetary losses that your business sustained. If the claim cannot be resolved in an informal manner, trade secret litigation in the Michigan court system may become necessary.
Trade secret litigation in Michigan can sometimes be a lengthy process. In some instances, forensic experts and other investigators will be called upon to determine exactly what happened and how the information at issue was likely disclosed. In trade secret litigation cases, questions will probably also arise as to whether the information at issue actually qualified as a trade secret – and whether the information was actually misappropriated. In addition, a court may be called upon to determine what – if any – damages a corporation suffered as a result of one or more trade secrets being leaked to another corporation or individual.
While taking action for trade secret protection and misappropriation can seem time-consuming, it will protect the interests of your corporation and prevent competition based on your IP. It is better to address the matter head-on than wait for additional losses to occur.
Talk with a Detroit Trade Secrets Litigation Attorney Today
If you suspect that one or more trade secrets belonging to your business have been disclosed, experienced attorney Maxwell Goss is here to assist. To schedule an appointment for a legal consultation with an experienced Detroit trade secrets litigation lawyer, please contact us today.