Most businesses have some form of trade secret, whether it’s a customer list, a process, or some other type of information. Trade secret protection is important for businesses of all sizes, as it can help to give them a competitive edge. In the United States, trade secrets are protected at the state level under a patchwork of state laws. These laws vary from state to state, but they all share the common goal of protecting businesses’ confidential information from being appropriated by competitors.
The most important trade secret law is the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), which was first promulgated in 1979 and has been adopted by 47 states (all except Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina). The UTSA provides a uniform definition of what constitutes a trade secret and establishes civil procedures for trade secret misappropriation.
Under the UTSA, a trade secret is defined as “information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that: (I) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable through proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and (ii) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.”
To prove trade secret misappropriation under the UTSA, a claimant must show that the defendant:
- Acquired, disclosed, or used the trade secret without authorization; and
- Did so through improper means, such as theft, bribery, espionage, or breach of a confidential relationship.
Trade secret protection is essential for businesses of all sizes. That’s why if a trade secret is found to have been misappropriated, the court can order a variety of relief, including injunctions, damages, and attorneys’ fees.
The Washington Uniform Trade Secrets Act (WUTSA) is the state law that governs the protection of trade secrets in the state of Washington. It is mostly identical to the UTSA and provides trade secret protection for different things that can be leaked and hamper a business establishment, such as customer lists, product formulas, and business strategies. The WUTSA sets out the legal requirements for trade secret protection and provides remedies for trade secret misappropriation.
Tips For Trade Secret Protection
The importance of trade secret protection cannot be understated. Trade secret protection is a critical part of any business’ intellectual property strategy. By keeping information secret, businesses can maintain a competitive edge and avoid having their best ideas copied or stolen.
There are a few key things to keep in mind when protecting trade secrets:
- Keep information confidential. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember that not all information should be treated as a trade secret. Only information that provides a competitive advantage should be kept confidential.
- Limit access to information. Make sure only those who need to know about the trade secret have access to it. The fewer people who know about it, the less likely it is to be leaked.
- Use non-disclosure agreements. If you do need to share trade secrets with someone outside the company, make sure they sign a non-disclosure agreement first. This will legally bind them to keep the information confidential.
- Protect physical copies of information. Trade secrets can be stored in both physical and digital forms. Make sure both are well-protected, with restricted access and strong security measures.
- Monitor for leaks. Keep an eye out for signs that information may have been leaked. If you suspect a leak, act quickly to contain it and prevent further damage.
Following these tips can help protect your company’s trade secrets and maintain your competitive edge.
How We Can Help
As a business owner, you know that your trade secrets are essential. They are what give you an edge over your competition, and they are the key to your success. That’s why it’s so important to protect them. And if someone violates your trade secrets, you need an experienced attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve. TBillick Law PLLC has the competency and experience you need to ensure your trade secrets are protected.
We understand the importance of trade secrets and will do everything we can to help you protect yours. We will investigate any potential violations, and we will work with you to develop a strategy to stop the violations. Tim and the team will work with you to develop a comprehensive trade secret protection plan tailored to your business’s needs. We will also help you to implement the plan and to monitor its effectiveness.
If someone has stolen your secrets, we will help you get them back and get compensated for the theft. If you have any questions or concerns about trade secret protection, we are here to help. Contact us today by calling 206-494-0020 or use our convenient online form to send a message—we can help protect your trade secrets.