Texas Trade Secrets Attorney
Does your business have a secret that provides a significant competitive advantage over your competition? This can be something like a unique manufacturing process, advertising strategy, or even a recipe. One of the best examples is the Google algorithm. Over the years, they have developed what is widely considered to be the best search engine, and their algorithm lies at the core of that success and is a very closely guarded secret. If your business is in this position, you have a trade secret that needs to be protected. Hiring a trade secrets attorney in Texas with Eddington & Worley to help your business safeguard this valuable information is crucial to maintaining your competitive advantage.
Our experienced Texas intellectual property law firm understands the value your business’s proprietary information provides. If your trade secrets were to fall into the wrong hands, the edge you have over your competition could disappear overnight. Call Eddington & Worley today at (281) 595-1519 and speak with one of our expert attorneys. We will help you protect your trade secrets and can defend your interests should someone attempt to release your information publicly.
What are Trade Secrets?
The federal and state trade secret laws also protect crucial business information. For example, they are responsible for protecting confidential marketing plans involving the introduction of a secret salsa recipe or launching a new software application product. The scope of protection in this regard depends on whether the business can gain an advantage over its competitors. The law keeps it as a secret from the opponents.
So what is trade secret litigation? It is litigation that involves the most information and secret technical, financial, or business information that an individual or a company has and is considered a “trade secret” by the individual or company. This can be something like the Coca-Cola recipe, which has been a protected secret for over 100 years at this point, the KFC recipe, and any other secret or non-disclosed recipe for a major brand.
Trade Secret Policy
Trade secrets are the fourth type of intellectual property, in addition to copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Trade secrets are comprised of information and may include a pattern, formula, program, compilation, method, device, process, or technique. To meet the most commonly used definition of a trade secret, it has to be used in business and provide an opportunity for obtaining an economic lead over your competitors that either don’t use it or don’t know about it.
The United States is a member of the World Trade Organization as well as a party to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which means that it is obligated to ensure that trade secrets are protected. According to Article 39, Paragraph 2, member nations are required to provide a means for protecting secret information, commercially valuable information because it is secret, and subject to reasonable steps for keeping it secret.
2016’s Defend Trade Secrets Act created a civil cause of action that strengthened the protection of trade secrets in the United States, with the option for the parties with localized disputes under either state or federal law heard in federal court. The state laws might differ, but similarities exist among the laws since nearly all states have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act in some form. After the elevation of trade secrets to protected status by the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, they now have a similar status to copyrights, patents, and even trademarks.
How Do I Protect My Trade Secrets?
Courts can be useful when it comes to protecting trade secrets by enjoining the misappropriation and ordering the parties that misappropriate trade secrets to take steps geared towards maintaining its secrecy and ordering the payment of royalties to the owner.
Courts may also award damages, court costs, and lawyers’ fees as long as they are reasonable. It is very limited protection since the holder of the trade secret is only protected from unauthorized use and disclosure, which is what’s known as misappropriation.
If the holder of a trade secret does not maintain secrecy or if the information is discovered independently, is released, or is otherwise generally known, then the protection as a trade secret will be lost. Trade secrets don’t have an expiration date, which means that protection continues until either loss or discovery.
Trade secret protection complements patent protection. Patents require inventors to provide an enabling and detailed disclosure about the invention in exchange for the right to exclude other parties from practicing the invention for a certain period of time.
A patent will eventually expire, and when that happens, the information contained therein will no longer enjoy protection. Unlike trade secrets, however, patents can protect against independent discovery. The protection of patents also eliminates the need for maintaining privacy.
While it is possible to keep just about anything secret, limitations exist regarding what a patent can protect. If a particular invention is eligible for trade secret or patent protection, then the decision regarding how that invention should be protected will depend on business considerations as well as evaluating the relative benefits of intellectual property of each type.
How Can I Defend Against Public Disclosure?
A common trade secret case is one in which a former employee takes information to a competitor and discusses it with them in the course of their new employment. Another common type is two companies that work together on a joint venture using Non-Disclosure Agreements to exchange trade secrets. Then one of the companies decides to strike out on their own using the information of the other company. With the rise of the digital age, hacking into a competitor’s network infrastructure has become a real threat to trade secrets.
The biggest challenge involved in a trade secret is ensuring that others keep it a secret. As a trade secret, financial and business information is often devalued or made completely worthless after public disclosure. In these cases, even a successful lawsuit with damages awarded may not be enough to cushion the blow from this loss. It is for this reason that a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunctive relief must be obtained at even the suspicious of trade secret theft to prevent further issues.
In the case of a trade secret being stored electronically, we often ask for the help of a court-appointed forensic expert to ensure the whole scope of the theft is known. A quick preliminary investigation can be the foundation for a request that will seize the IP in question and thwart further dissemination thereof. If one is accused of appropriating or employing someone who is accused of this, a forensic expert, strong invention, and other actions may prove critical to mounting a good defense. Criminal exposure is also a risk, in addition to civil liability, under several federal statutes including the Economic Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Acts.
To mount a strong defense via both civil and criminal legal changes is something that only experienced counsel with the goal of favorable resolution are able to do. Once a case has entered litigation, the case usually focuses on the trade secrets in question and if they legally qualify as trade secrets. Their misappropriation and any damages that came from that action are also considered.
In order to qualify for this protection, trade secret owners must prove that they have taken all reasonable steps possible to keep their trade secrets confidential. This can include requiring an NDA for anyone who might come into contact with those secrets, and even things like limiting the number of people who work with said secrets. In the instance of trade secret cases, expert witnesses will often be called. These witnesses testify on everything from the definition of trade secrets to whether or not access to said secrets is considered theft or to have damaged the value of the trade secret in question.
How Can a Trade Secrets Lawyer Help Me?
Together with our clients, we implement strategies that protect, maximize, and promote the value of trade secrets. We have significant experience protecting sensitive information, market-disrupting innovations, and other properties using the full power of the law. After determining what information is best protected under trade secret laws, the creation of systems and procedures to ensure that this information remains legally protected in important. This helps guard against loss and theft. We often are able to help clients map, identify, and fully develop their trade secrets
Our first task is assessing whether or not proprietary information is subject to intellectual property, patent, or trade secret laws. A trade secrets attorney will provide counseling on the best methods to preserve trade secrets and how to maintain their value. We design and implement information security plans, policies including but not limited to cybersecurity, and procedures that can help protect trade secrets from loss of misappropriation. Finally, we advise clients on how best to realize the true value of their IP portfolio, proper management, and licensing channels. We help obtain relief before the ITC by seeking a ban on imports of goods to the USA that misappropriate trade secrets. We help defend against criminal charges and investigations started under the Economic Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Contact a Trade Secrets Attorney at Eddington & Worley for a Free Consultation
Protecting your company’s trade secrets is vital to any successful business. Disclosure of any form can be incredibly detrimental, giving your competitors the ability to not only replicate but potentially improve upon your work. Trade secrets often require extensive investments in time, research, and capital, so not only does the loss of them result in a loss of competitive advantage, but it also represents the loss of investment.
At Eddington & Worley, we understand the importance of your trade secrets and recognize the impact losing them would have on your business. When you contact our Texas intellectual property attorneys, we will assign a dedicated trade secrets attorney to your case, giving you access to an expert who will fight for you. Call us today at (281) 595-1519 and start protecting your business’s proprietary information with the help of an experienced lawyer.