In 2016, U.S. Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”), which created a body of federal trade secret laws that almost mirrored the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”). The DTSA and UTSA govern trade secret protection in nearly every state and federal jurisdiction in the United States, and allow an owner of a trade secret to sue in federal court when its trade secret has been misappropriated. To avoid misappropriation, below are a few simple ways to protect trade secrets under DTSA and UTSA.
- Pinpoint the trade secret. A company first needs to identify the trade secrets that are important to their economic success. Under DTSA and UTSA, a list of what is considered a trade secret can be expansive but generally must include some information possessing some kind of economic value, or potential for economic value. Yet, a company should not designate every piece of business information as a trade secret, but should consider what is worth spending its time and energy to protect. Some examples of a trade secret would be the recipe for Coca-Cola or the formula for WD-40. Trade secrets may also include items that a person or company has not chosen to patent yet, such as a new plant hybrid or mechanical invention.
- Maintain its secrecy. DTSA and UTSA provide that businesses must take reasonable steps to maintain the secrecy of the trade secret. This can include setting employee guidelines, creating non-disclosure agreements, and applying trade secret notifications, such as a “confidential” stamp.
- Take action to prevent further unwanted trade secret dissemination. If a misappropriation of your company’s trade secrets has occurred, consider a Cease-and-Desist Letter to put that party on notice that you are aware of misappropriation and that serious consequences may occur if the misappropriation continues. Another option is filing suit and seeking an injunction, both of which are allowable by the UTSA and DTSA.
There are several steps that can be taken to protect trade secrets and each company has its own distinctive needs. To determine how to effectively protect your trade secret information, contact the experienced counsel at Rock Fusco & Connelly, LLC.