A company’s valuable intellectual property (IP) goes beyond patents, trademarks, and copyrights, as many businesses choose to protect certain confidential information as trade secrets. Trade secrets are not officially registered as IP with any federal or state agency, and such information can be protected only once the owner meets certain requirements.
Even if you have properly protected trade secrets, these high-value assets are always at risk of misappropriation by current employees, former employees, and competitors. If you believe your trade secrets fell into the wrong hands, you should take swift action to protect this information. A Michigan trade secrets litigation lawyer at Maxwell Goss Law is ready to help.
Protecting Trade Secrets
Trade secrets can involve technical information, such as product designs or formulas, that are similar to patents. They can also involve business information, such as client and customer lists, operational processes, financial information, and more. In order to ensure that this information has protection as trade secrets, the following must be true:
- The information is economically valuable
- The information is not generally known outside the company
- The company has taken reasonable measures to protect the information as confidential
Generally, reasonable measures include having those with access to the information sign non-disclosure agreements. Once these requirements are met, no one should reveal the protected information to any parties outside the company, or that should not have access.
However, as many business owners learn the hard way, even the strongest protections cannot always keep trade secrets confidential. If you suspect that valuable information was misappropriated, it is imperative to seek legal counsel immediately.
Taking Legal Action
Trade secrets might be misused or stolen by an employee, disgruntled former employee, vendor, partner, or even a hacker outside of the organization. Often, these parties will use the information for their own benefit to compete against your business, or they might sell the information to the highest bidder – usually a competitor. If a competitor uses information they should know was a trade secret, they should also be liable for any losses your company faces.
Bringing trade secret litigation can be a complicated process, and it often involves internal investigations, using forensic experts, and other investigative tools to learn exactly how the information was exposed. Several issues can arise in trade secret litigation cases, including:
- Did the information actually qualify as a trade secret?
- Were the steps taken to ensure confidentiality (such as requiring NDAs) adequate?
- Was the information misappropriated?
- Did the company that owned the trade secrets suffer damages as a result of misappropriation?
Our law firm has the resources to prove valid trade secret claims and present expert analysis when needed, contact us today for more information.