The New Trade Secret Law Impact on BusinessNovember 28, 2016

     It’s just nine months old, but the new Defend Trade Secrets Act provides for a new stronger defense of key intellectual property.  Enacted May 11, 2016, the law provides for the first time for a uniform federal law protecting trade secrets.  Previously, trade secrets could be enforced only according to variable state law, and in state courts.  Now a federal court action is possible for misappropriation of trade secrets.  However, there are extra steps companies will want to take to ensure their trade secrets are protected.      In order to take advantage of the federal law, agreements entered into with employees after May 11, 2016 need to add reference to the fact that there is a “whistle blower”exception to revealing trade secrets.  This is a good time to check agreements with employees to not only add such language, but assure employee, contractor and consultant agreements make proper reference to protection of company trade secrets, and to determine if you need to add reference to consent to US jurisdiction.      Trade secret protection can be available where reasonable measures are taken to keep the information secret, and value is derived from the information not being generally known.  The law prohibits misappropriation of trade secrets, but remember that reverse engineering or independent invention is not misappropriation.  The new law adds teeth in providing for seizure of property in limited circumstances, where necessary to prevent the trade secret from being further leaked.  Combined with patents, trade secrets provide a different avenue of protection for intellectual property assets.

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