Trade Secret Attorneys
Helping Businesses Protect Trade Secrets
Businesses have many kinds of assets, including non-physical assets like intellectual property and trade secrets. Confidentiality gives your trade secrets value, and unauthorized dissemination of proprietary information can jeopardize a business’s ability to compete. When your company discovers a breach, speed is of the essence. Equally important is the way you handle trade secrets before they are threatened.
If you believe your trade secrets have been leaked or need help understanding your legal rights, turn to Potts Law Firm. For our team, it’s all about our power, reach, and results. Our experienced trade secret lawyers can hold parties responsible for stealing and distributing trade secrets accountable for their actions. We can also help you take proactive steps to ensure your proprietary information qualifies for legal protection under intellectual property law. With eight offices across the United States, we can assist you no matter where you are, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect your interests.
If you have questions or concerns about trade secrets, we invite you to schedule a free initial consultation by contacting us online or calling (888) 420-1299. Same-day appointments are available, and we provide our services in English and Spanish.
What Is Considered a Trade Secret?
Several factors will determine whether a piece of information falls under the legal definition of a “trade secret.” General secrecy alone is not all that matters: To what extent the information is known outside your business and within your organization is also important. The inherent value of the information and the amount of money you have invested in the information, including in efforts to keep that information secret, will also come into play.
Generally, a piece of information is considered a “trade secret” if:
- The information is not publicly available. If a member of the public – that is, someone who is not an employee of your business – can easily discover the content of the information, it is by definition not secret.
- The information has economic value. Trade secrets provide crucial competitive advantages to your business. Many tend to give you the information you need to create and offer specialized or superior products or services. If the information became publicly available (or was made available to a competitor), would your business lose a competitive advantage? If so, there is a good chance the information offers some sort of economic benefit.
- You take active steps to protect the information’s secrecy. This element is extremely important. For a secret to become a trade secret, a company must make a continued effort to protect the information’s secrecy. Several tools, including nondisclosure and (in some states) non-compete agreements, are commonly used to prevent the misappropriation of secrets and meet this legal requirement.
Examples of common trade secrets include:
- Recipes and formulas
- Customer lists and contacts
- Business plans
- Information that benefits your company that you do not want competitors to know about
Protecting your trade secrets is paramount, and we can help. When you work with our trade secret attorneys at Potts Law Firm, we will identify the types of information that warrant protective measures and what you can do to keep these secrets secret.
How Is a Trade Secret Different from a Patent?
Trade secrets and patents are both types of intellectual property that provide significant value (including competitive advantages) to a company. Patents are public, however, and information on them is accessible to the public – including competitors. To compensate for this, the safeguards offered by intellectual property law are generally stronger. A patent holder has the right to exclusively use their patent for a set period, typically up to 20 years, even if another party independently invents an identical or substantially similar invention. Still, patents do expire, meaning someone could conceivably use a patented invention in several decades, thereby limiting its long-term value to your business.
Trade secrets, in theory, can remain “secret” forever if appropriate measures are taken. Keep in mind that some types of information, such as ideas lacking concrete execution, customer lists, and research, may also not necessarily qualify for patents. Our team at Potts Law Firm can walk you through your intellectual property protection options and help you decide which approach is right for you.
What Are the Essential Elements of a Trade Secret Claim?
When you discover a trade secret has been stolen or illicitly distributed, you have the right to take legal action and sue the misappropriating party. Three elements are generally needed for a trade secret claim.
Our trade secret lawyers will work to prove:
- The misappropriated information meets the definition of a trade secret
- Precautions were taken to protect the misappropriated trade secret
- The trade secret was misappropriated or taken illegally
Information that is legally obtained through reverse engineering or inadvertent disclosure may not be a breach that is prosecutable. We will always be transparent when discussing your legal options and be direct when advising whether you have a strong case.
Do not wait to get legal advice if you believe your company’s trade secrets have been misappropriated. Call (888) 420-1299 or contact us online today.
One of the most vital tools in the intellectual property protection arsenal is the nondisclosure agreement, which restricts what contractual parties can share outside a business relationship. It is typically in your best interest to compel employees, independent contractors, and all other parties with potential access to proprietary information to sign these legal agreements.
In some states, you may also be able to utilize and enforce non-compete agreements, which are designed to prevent an employee from taking trade secrets to a competitor after they depart your organization. Non-competes must be carefully structured (and limited in scope) to hold up in state courts that honor them.
Additionally, documenting the measures you take to ensure your information is kept secret will provide you the proof you need to protect yourself if a breach does occur. We can help you establish best practices and verify that any restrictive covenant agreements already in use are enforceable in your area.
If you are unsure if you have a case, don’t hesitate to call us today for a free consultation. Our team of experienced attorneys are ready to review your claim and fight for you.
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