Trade secrets are a form of intellectual property. Their theft can lead to civil litigation against the alleged thief, as well as criminal prosecution by
A Texas federal court recently entered an injunction against a healthcare staffing company that works with federal agencies ordering it to (1) return information brought to it by a new hire from his previous employer and (2) not to use such information in any way to submit bids on any staffing contracts with federal agencies.
Under both, the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act and the various state Uniform Trade Secrets Acts, an owner of trade secrets must take “reasonable measures” or reasonable steps to protect the trade secrets from being disclosed.
Given the difficulty of protecting intellectual property related to cannabis and cannabis-based products with patents, copyrights and trademarks, any company in the cannabis industry should formulate a trade secrets protection plan from the very outset of the business, in order to ensure that the proprietary information at the center of its business does not lose its confidential status down the road.
If an employment agreement entered after May 11, 2016, does not contain an immunity notice, employer can sue an employee for trade secrets misappropriation, but will not be able to recover its attorneys fees or obtain an award of punitive damages.
Since trade secrets are not registered with the government, like patents or trademarks, companies must take proactive measures to preserve them. Those who fail to take reasonable measures, risk finding out down the road (usually in court, when the try to recover stolen trade secrets from a rogue employee) that their information has lost its trade secrets status.