Learn How To Assert Your Right To Your Trade Secrets
The unique qualities and strengths of a business are what drives the company forward. Make sure that you take the best steps to protect your trade secrets and other business advantages. At Meynardie & Nanney, PLLC, our business and commercial litigation attorneys can provide detailed advice to the most frequently asked questions regarding trade secrets.
Do I Have A Protectable Trade Secret?
A trade secret can include business or technical information that is not obvious through common knowledge, reverse engineering or independent development. However, the owner of the trade secret must take reasonable steps to keep their trade secret information private.
The North Carolina Trade Secret Protection Act (NCTSPA) states that a secret formula, pattern, program, device, set of information, method, technique or process could be a protectable trade secret. To be protectable, these forms of trade secrets must also derive independent actual or potential commercial value as long as it remains secret.
What Do I Need To Bring A Claim Against Someone Who Stole My Trade Secret?
To bring a lawsuit under the NCTSPA, you must be able to prove that the other party misappropriated your trade secret. You must also be able to prove that the misappropriation caused you damages.
Trade secret misappropriation includes acquiring, disclosing or using a trade secret without the owner’s permission. However, your case may not be misappropriation if the other party discovered your trade secret through reverse engineering, independent development or from another person who has the legal ability to share your trade secret.
If I Did Not Make A Noncompete Agreement With My Employee, Can That Employee Use My Customer List At Their Next Job?
Courts usually do not consider customer lists that contain readily accessible information to be protectable trade secrets. If the list contains unique details, such as customer preferences or pricing information, then it may be eligible for trade secret protection. If the former employee uses the information from their memory, it may not be protectable.
How Can I Remedy A Misappropriation Of My Trade Secret?
Both state and federal laws offer the chance to seek recovery through litigation. North Carolina offers recovery for economic loss or unjust enrichment, depending on which recovery would be larger. You may also receive a reasonable royalty if the court decides that preventing the other party from stopping use of the trade secret would be unreasonable.
The federal law allows recovery for both economic loss and any unjust enrichment that is not already included in the total economic loss. A royalty for use of the trade secret is also possible. In many cases, a lawsuit at the federal level can yield a larger recovery than it can at the state level.
Discuss Your Questions With A Qualified Attorney
If you believe that the strength of your trade secret has been diluted by misappropriation, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer. Call our Raleigh office at 919-891-8409 or email our team to schedule a personalized consultation with Meynardie & Nanney, PLLC, today.