Misappropriation of trade secrets is a form of unfair competition in which a company or individual discloses confidential information, resulting in damage to the holder of the trade secret.
A “trade secret” is defined as information that is economically valuable because it is not known to others who may obtain economic value from the information — its value lies in its secrecy. In addition, the company in possession of the trade secret must have taken reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy. The information cannot be generally known, and it must have real value.
In a trade secret claim, plaintiffs must first prove that the information in question was a trade secret. Next, they must prove that the plaintiff’s business took steps to prevent disclosure of the information. The information must have been wrongfully acquired by another person or entity (misappropriated). Finally, plaintiffs should prove the degree of the damages.
Sometimes, an entity can obtain trade secrets without there being a case for misappropriation of trade secrets. Trade secrets can legally be obtained through reverse engineering and other methods, and they are not protected legally if the business did not take protective measures. Only when the secrets were obtained through improper means such as theft, bribery or a breach of confidence is misappropriation of trade secrets present.
Manufacturing information that is not publicly known often qualifies as a trade secret. In some cases, lists of customer information may be considered trade secrets. Other examples of trade secrets include computer programs, financial data, plans and any other information that is important to the business.
U.S. courts may award a number of remedies for misappropriation of trade secrets. The court can provide injunctive relief by barring the defendant from continuing to publish trade secrets, although the effects may be limited once information has already been transmitted. The plaintiff can also seek monetary damages for the financial harm resulting from the misappropriation, as well as punitive damages if the defendant was malicious. Attorneys’ fees may also be recovered.
LaGarde Law Firm provides representation for misappropriation of trade secrets on a business contingent fee model. This means that we front the legal costs, and are paid from a portion of the settlement funds once the case is settled. In addition to our fee, we are reimbursed for court costs and other expenses that we have incurred on our client’s behalf.
LaGarde Law Firm stands ready to help answer questions you may have about your misappropriation of trade secrets claim. Contact us at our Houston, TX office (713) 993-0660 our Naples, Florida office (239) 500-6040, our toll free number 1-(866)-LAGARDE (1-866-524-2733) for a free, zero-obligation consultation.