Trade Secrets Theft
Kohn, Swift & Graf represents businesses injured by trade secrets theft. Trade secrets are confidential, sensitive, and / or proprietary information that give a business a competitive advantage by being known only to the business’s insiders. Theft or misappropriation of a business’s trade secrets is actionable under state and federal law.
The firm is currently representing a fluid-hydraulics engineering firm whose confidential engineering drawings for a sophisticated rocket-launch mechanism on a NASA facility were misappropriated by a former employee and rival firm. Advanced Fluid Systems v. Huber et al., 28 F. Supp. 3d 306 (M.D. Pa. 2014). The firm successfully tried to jury verdict in a six-week trial in Detroit the misappropriation of thousands of engineering drawings for high-end model trains. Mike’s Train House v. Lionel, 472 F. 3d 398 (6th Cir. 2006).
Trade secrets can be among a business’s most valuable assets. They may include, among other things:
• proprietary software
• customer lists
Theft of Trade Secrets Litigation
Businesses that sustain losses from trade secrets theft may file lawsuits in state or federal court. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), adopted in some form by most states, allows a business to file an action in state court for theft of information that:
• is not generally known in the particular area of business
• the possessors take reasonable efforts to keep secret
• provides independent current or potential economic benefit to the possessor(s) as a result of its secrecy, and
• cannot be easily (and legally) discovered or reverse-engineered by others who would also derive economic benefit from its use
In 2016, the U.S. Congress for the first time enacted a federal statute that protects businesses from trade secret misappropriation (the Defend Trade Secrets Act, or DTSA). This Act protects trade secrets related to products or services used or intended to be used in interstate or foreign commerce, including the following types of tangible or intangible information:
Relief in Trade Secret Theft Actions
Courts in federal and state theft of trade secrets cases may award plaintiffs:
• actual damages for financial losses sustained as a result of the theft, and
• punitive damages for willful or malicious trade secret theft
A court may also:
• enjoin a defendant from further use or revelation (publication) of a misappropriated trade secret, or
• order the defendant to pay royalties to the plaintiff if the defendant profits from the secret’s continued use
Contact an Intellectual Property (IP) Lawyer
Theft of a business’s trade secrets can significantly reduce or eliminate its ability to compete. Quick action to stop further use or publication of stolen secrets can limit losses and preserve a business’s viability. If you are a victim of trade secrets theft, contact us for an evaluation of your intellectual property (IP) case without charge.