Trade secrets only have value as long as they stay secret, so once they come into a competitor’s hands or become publicly available, their value is often destroyed.
Few employees realize that when they take their employers’ trade secrets with them prior to leaving their job they may be exposing themselves to criminal liability under the Economic Espionage Act, which makes it a crime to steal trade secrets when (1) the information relates to a product in interstate or foreign commerce (which is virtually any product now days) or (2) the intended beneficiary is a foreign power.
A court order prohibiting defendant from using trade secrets must be broad enough to cover all possible circumstances while narrow enough to include only the illegal activities. Where that line lies depends on the circumstances of each particular case.
What a lot of companies do not realize, however, is that if they wait too long to ask for an injunction after finding out about the employee’s competitive activities, a court may deny their request simply because they waited too long
The business world is littered with the carcasses of companies which, after they shared their confidential information and trade secrets with a non-competitor, such as their client, supplier, or vendor, were undercut by that party, who all of a sudden realized that they could profit from the information by cutting out the middle-man.
The Fifth Circuit recently considered whether the federal copyright and patent laws preempt (trump) Texas common law claim of unfair competition by misappropriation.
A lot of times a company rushes to court asking the judge to stop a former employee or his new employer from using the company’s confidential information or soliciting its customers based on the agreements that the former employee had signed with the company.
A “list of actual or potential customers or suppliers” of a company qualifies as a trade secret as long as: (1) its owner, i.e. the company, took reasonable measures to keep it secret and (2) the list has an economic value because it is not generally known and cannot be easily determined by another person.
Before pleading a Texas Theft Liability Act claim against an employee for stealing the company’s data, information, documents, or other property, the company should make sure that there is at least some evidence of the employee’s intent to deprive the company of its property.
In my practice, I see this scenario all the time: an employee leaves to work for a competitor, the employer realizes that its non-disclosure (NDA) or non-compete agreement was inadequate to protect it from what just happened, so the company rolls out a new…
Texas’ recent amendments to its trade secrets statute made it the most comprehensive and modern statute in the nation. It is the only statute in the nation that addresses when a competitor can be excluded from the courtroom to prevent disclosure of trade secrets during the lawsuit.
In this state, the consideration must have a “reasonable relationship” to the employer’s interest in restraining the employee from competing. Simply restricting an employee from lawful competition for the sake of preventing competition will almost certainly fail.