Protecting trade secrets involves appropriately identifying them and putting legal tools in place to keep them secure. Taking legal action to hold parties accountable for misappropriation is another crucial way of preserving trade secrets’ value. However, this step can be far more complex than you might realize.
Going beyond theft allegations
The primary issue in many trade secret claims is proving whether a party misused or stole protected information.
However, establishing whether that occurred or not is not necessarily the only element of these cases. Countless legal metrics and requirements can jeopardize a claim or introduce complications.
For instance, a recent case between Boeing Co and contractor Alabama Aircraft Industries Inc highlights a few elements that can make resolving trade secret disputes difficult.
Which laws apply?
One element of this case that complicates the claim is a matter of which laws apply. The parties argued over whether Alabama or Missouri laws governed the dispute. This is crucial because they have different time limits that affect whether a party can file a trade secret lawsuit.
It is not unusual for this issue to arise in trade secret or other intellectual property claims. Businesses often operate in multiple states or even countries, making it challenging to determine which laws apply. And the decision can dramatically affect the outcome.
Filing an appeal to reverse, overturn or retry a case can also add complexity to these claims. While it can certainly be a good option if your business is involved in a trade secret dispute and you are unhappy with a court’s ruling, the fact is that appeals extend the process and cost money.
In this case between Boeing and AAI, the original lawsuit was filed back in 2011 and is still working its way through the legal system, as an appeals court most recently denied Boeing’s request for a rehearing.
Protecting your business from start to finish
With this case in mind, it can be easier to see why legal representation is crucial in these cases. Even if you see a dispute as “open and shut,” the fact is that the question of whether someone misappropriated trade secrets is not always the only issue parties must tackle in a legal claim.
Legal guidance from beginning to end can help you navigate these issues more efficiently.