Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

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Business law deals with all the aspects of building and operating a business. This includes issues related to employee relations, consumer rights, taxation, and intellectual property. As a creator of designs, inventions or innovations, proprietary technology, or the strategies you used to gain an advantage over competitors, you have the right to keep your intellectual property from being used without your consent. When confidential information about an industry or a business strategy is used without a business owner’s consent, he or she has the right to take action against the alleged offender.

Business law disputes are civil cases. In Green Bay, civil cases are handled by the Brown County Circuit Court.

Examples of Acts of Misappropriating Trade Secrets

To be a protected trade secret, a piece of information must meet the following:

  • It is kept secret;
  • Reasonable care is taken to keep the information secret; and
  • The information provides its owner with a competitive advantage.

A few ways an individual or a company can commit an act of trade secret misappropriation include:

  • Publishing or broadcasting a trade secret;
  • Bribing a company member to provide trade secrets;
  • Stealing sensitive documents and computer files that contain trade secrets;
  • Poaching employees from a competitor; and
  • Committing acts of industrial espionage.

What Can I Do to Protect my Trade Secrets?

As a business owner, you can protect your trade secrets by identifying all confidential information and labeling it as such. By limiting the number of people who can access this information and the number of hard copies of this information in circulation, you can keep your trade secrets from falling into the wrong hands or being misused. Always keep your company’s security software up to date.

If you work with outside vendors or contracted employees, clearly state the confidential nature of the information used and consider having them sign non-disclosure agreements. If a vendor or employee breaches your right to privacy surrounding your trade secrets, this document will be an important piece of evidence in your case.

If you find that your secrets have been misappropriated, you can seek injunctive relief. This is a court order requiring the offender to cease his or her actions. You can also seek compensation for your damages suffered as a result of the misappropriation, which could be reduced profits or market share. In some cases, the defendant may be required to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees for the case if the court rules in favor of the plaintiff.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Business Lawyer

As a business owner, you naturally want to protect your trade secrets. After all, you worked hard to develop or acquire the strategies and knowledge that you used to build your company. To protect your trade secrets from being stolen or misused, work with an experienced civil litigation attorney in Appleton from Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC. Contact our office today to schedule your free consultation with a member of our firm.

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