Any proprietary information you have that gives your business a competitive edge in the marketplace could be a trade secret. Protecting this information to keep it from competitors or the public should be a top priority for businesses.
Unfortunately, this information can get out through theft or misappropriation. Under state and federal laws, however, there are remedies available should this occur.
Remedies that may be available
In accordance with the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, courts may award the following types of remedies:
- Damages for the actual loss
- Damages for unjust enrichment
- Exemplary damages in cases of willful or malicious misappropriation
- Attorney’s fees for the prevailing party
- Protective orders to preserve secrecy
In some cases, there could also be federal criminal charges brought against a party who steals trade secrets. This could happen, for instance, in situations where a foreign party uses or acquires protected information without permission.
Financial awards and court orders can help compensate a company for loses, but unfortunately, they cannot undo the release of information. Because of this, businesses must protect their trade secrets proactively.
Preventing theft in the first place
Business owners would be wise to take the following precautions to prevent theft of trade secrets:
- Protecting sensitive information with passwords
- Properly identifying proprietary information as such
- Restricting access to any secretive information
- Requiring employees with access to sign confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements
These are examples of reasonable measures to keep trade secrets secure. If you do not take reasonable steps to maintain the secrecy of information, it can become public and will not qualify as a trade secret.
Trade secrets and other types of intellectual property protection can be the backbone of a business. As such, owners should be diligent and aggressive when it comes to protecting their proprietary information and taking action against parties who misuse it.