question.jpgIn Trade Secrets

How do I enforce my trade secret rights?

Obviously, to protect your trade secrets, you must keep them secret. This requires you to take reasonable steps appropriate for your particular situation, such as using physical security, marking protected information as confidential, having confidentiality agreements in place and keeping careful records.

If you learn that someone is using, or has disclosed, your trade secret without your permission, you should take immediate action. It is highly recommended that you consult an attorney for specific advice but, generally, you should send a cease and desist letter to any party violating your rights, informing them that the information is your trade secret and that they must stop using and/or disclosing it. In addition, you may want to file a lawsuit against them, particularly if they have disclosed your information. In this lawsuit, you would want to seek a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, which would serve to immediately order the other party to stop using and disclosing your trade secret. This is especially important because even if they were in the wrong to disclose your trade secret in the first place, if they continue doing so to the point that it is considered publicly disclosed, you will lose your trade secret rights forever.

However, you must be careful when filing such a lawsuit. If the court determines that the information in question was not actually something which you were entitled to claim as a trade secret, and if the court believes the lawsuit was brought in bad faith (for example, to prevent competition), you can be found liable for punitive damages that you would have to pay to the other party.