According to LexMachina.com, trade secret cases increased by about 30% between 2015 and 2017, and have leveled off since. If you are a business owner and you are trying to decide if you should file a trade secret lawsuit or hire an attorney to defend you against a trade secret lawsuit, look no further.
Our team at Richard L. Vanderslice, P.C. is a firm you can trust. Our attorneys are experienced in helping clients across Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as well as Philadelphia County and the neighboring areas of Montgomery County and Delaware County.
When you need help in business litigation, including trade secret misappropriation, contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.
Almost every jurisdiction within the United States has developed laws to protect against the use of improper means to learn or take advantage of another’s business secrets. For Pennsylvania, this occurs under the Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Secrets Act, becoming effective in April 2004.
Under Pennsylvania law, trade secrets are defined as, “Information, including a formula, drawing, pattern, compilation including a customer list, program, device, method, technique or process that:
Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use.
Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.”
If a trade secret fits this definition, it is given legal protection.
The standard to protect trade secrets in Pennsylvania is a “reasonable effort to maintain secrecy or confidentiality.” What does this mean?
Reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy can be a few different things, such as:
Locked file cabinets
Marking information “Confidential”
Restricting access to information
Businesses make these efforts to protect their trade secrets and make this information known to employees or anyone who would have any interaction with the protected information.
By law, improper means include, but are not limited to, “theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach or inducement of a breach of a duty to maintain secrecy or espionage through electronic or other means.”
“Improper” means illegally getting ahold of the organization’s trade secret. There is also misappropriation.
Trade secret misappropriation is outlined by the law as:
Acquisition of a trade secret by a person who knows or has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means
Disclosure or use of a trade secret of another without express or implied consent by a person who:
Used improper means to acquire knowledge of the trade secret
At the time of disclosure or use, knew or had reason to know that their knowledge of the trade secret was:
Derived from or through a person who had utilized improper means to acquire it
Acquired under circumstances giving rise to a duty to maintain its secrecy or limit its use
Derived from or through a person who owed a duty to the person seeking relief to maintain its secrecy or limit its use
Before a material change of their position, knew or had reason to know that it was a trade secret and that knowledge of it had been acquired by accident or mistake.
All of these actions are against the law as defined by Pennsylvania law.
If your organization’s trade secrets have been compromised, the law provides for damages that may be owed. Both legal and equitable remedies are possible. The Uniform Trade Act provides for not only injunctive relief but the award of any monetary damages sustained due to misappropriation. Damages can be measured on the basis of any actual loss to the owner or any unjust enrichment received by the user. Damages can also be measured on the basis of what a reasonable royalty might be. If the misappropriation was willful and malicious, the court can award exemplary or punitive damages in an amount not exceeding twice any award of actual damages. Attorney fees can also be rewarded.
A business litigation attorney can help you file a trade secret lawsuit as well as defend you against one. We will conduct your case with professionalism and respect for you and your situation, fighting for what is best for your business. If you live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia County, or any of the surrounding areas, call or reach out to our firm today.
If your business information or trade secrets have been misappropriated, you have the right to take action. With the help of a business litigation attorney, you can take the proper steps to make things right. If you are in the Philadelphia area, or the Pennsylvania counties of Philadelphia, Montgomery, or Delaware, contact us at Richard L. Vanderslice, P.C. today.