Trade secrets have commercial value. Laws regarding trade secrets can be abstruse, often needing clarification. That is why there is a Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), which attempts to clarify the rights for those with trade secrets they wish to protect.
Trade secrets may come in many forms. They may be a recipe for a scrumptious marketable sauce, a business method, a chemical process or a technology for a new electronic device. Any knowledge or information that has economic value — and is not generally known or attainable by others — can be considered a trade secret.
Whether the information is patented or not does not determine if a trade secret misappropriation can be remedied by the law. This is why the UTSA was enacted — to provide a remedy for those who have had their trade secrets misappropriated.
Misappropriation can take place in different ways. Theft and bribery to obtain a trade secret are forms of misappropriation. When misappropriation occurs, the victim may be able to obtain injunctive relief as well as compensation for damages.
Injunctive relief may come in the form of a portion or royalty of any future monetary gain from use of the trade secret. Damages may be remedied by compensation of any unjust gain that was derived from the misappropriation. Exemplary damages may also be compensated for, but are capped at twice the amount of the actual damages.
Those who have trade secrets should know the importance of taking steps to protect them. Having an attorney help with such valuable commodities is important. Regardless of the laws and Trade Secrets Act, it is sometimes difficult to protect a valuable trade secret due to the fierce competition in today's commercial market.
Source: Uniform Law Commission, "Trade Secrects Act Summary," accessed Jan. 19, 2018