A trade secret is any confidential information that provides a business owner with an advantage over the competition. Examples of trade secrets include formulas, patterns, processes, and other tools used by a company that is not generally known to the public. Business owners in Minnesota do not need to hear how important it is to protect their trade secrets. Fortunately, federal and state laws provide the framework for them to do so.
Trade secret protection
The Uniform Trade Secrets Act is one aspect of business & commercial law that protects business owners from others who may misappropriate their trade secrets. The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 provides similar protections against foreign powers. But business owners should know they must be diligent in their efforts to provide complete protection to their trade secrets.
The protection business owners provide to trade secrets is not a one-time fix. There is no limit to the time a business can keep its trade secrets confidential, and the efforts to guard these secrets should remain an ongoing process. Business owners may find the following steps useful:
- Identify company trade secrets
- Acknowledge the confidentiality of company trade secrets
- Designate which employees and management team members can access trade secrets
- Maintain strict control over trade secret accessibility
- Obtain signed confidentiality agreements from key personnel
- Provide training to employees regarding trade secret safety
- Devise a process for trade secret security breaches.
When trade secrets become compromised
There is a remedy available for businesses that suffer the theft of a trade secret. The first step the business owner should take is filing an injunction. This court order will require the offending party to stop using the trade secret until a court can give the matter further consideration.
Business owners will need to prepare themselves for the litigation process following the injunction filing. Successful litigation will lead to potential damage awards that address lost revenue, legal costs, and compensation for punitive damages.
Business disputes that play out in court can include complex legal issues. Business owners facing litigation possibilities may benefit from the assistance of an attorney.