Trade Secret Law
A trade secret is information that a person or company has spent time or money to acquire, that the owner tries to keep secret from those who do not need to have it – most especially competitors – and which has value to the owner, at least in part, because the information is not publicly available. Trade secrets are often some of the most-important information a business owns, yet they are also some of the least-protected.
Everyone understands the importance of protecting their tangible assets, things that can be destroyed or stolen. Homes and businesses have locks on their doors, and many have alarm systems or some other form of security. This is the information age, however, and frequently a business’s most important asset is not a piece of machinery, a tool, or a warehouse, but know-how. This information, a business’s trade secrets, needs to be protected.
Businesses can spend years developing their customer lists, and they need to protect them. They develop a novel way of manufacturing a product, and need to keep it away from competitors. They find a formula that allows them to do their jobs more-efficiently and therefore more-profitably, and need to make sure that others don’t take away their new-found advantage.
At One LLP, our trade secret lawyers help our clients protect their trade secrets before they are taken, by helping to develop appropriate security measures, by drafting confidentiality and other agreements to cover employees and business partners, and by helping our clients understand the legal wrinkles so their trade secrets are not forfeited by mistake.
In addition, One LLP helps its clients protect their trade secrets in court, or defend against meritless trade secret misappropriation claims that have been leveled against them. For example, One LLP recently represented a manufacturing company in suing former employees who left – with company secrets – to start a competing business. After a jury trial, One LLP’s client was awarded $7 million in damages, effectively shutting down the competing enterprise.
Likewise, One LLP has represented former employees who were accused (wrongly) of stealing their former employer’s trade secrets. In one case, the former employee was accused of trade-secret theft and was being sued for more than $3 million. One LLP tried the case before a jury, exposed the flaws in the opposing expert’s damages theory, and convinced the jury to reject the expert’s damages calculation.
Some recent examples of trade-secret disputes include:
- Securing a $7 million verdict for a major manufacturing company whose former employees left with customer lists, vendor lists, and product information.
- Representing a small, local business whose trade secret designs were taken by one of the world’s largest computer gaming companies.
- Representing a former employee against claims that she took and used her employer’s secret formulas.
- Representing a major national accounting firm who was sued in a multi-million dollar trade secret dispute over employees and practice areas.
- Representing the largest manufactured home software company in the nation in a trade secret dispute we brought against their competitor.
- Representing a software company that specializes in mainframe security products where the company’s source code was taken by a former employee to a competitor.
- Representing a software company in a dispute with a former employer over unauthorized access to the company’s computer systems.
- Defending a former employee against a claim that the employee stole confidential information and provided it to a competitor.