The Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), enacted by the legislature in 2011, has been wrecking havoc in business and employment disputes due to the statute’s overbroad language, confusing and conflicting interpretation by the various courts of appeals and federal courts, and defendants’ persistence in invoking the statute’s dismissal process in trade secrets and non-compete lawsuits.
Every business should take at least the following steps to protect its trade secrets: (1) have employees sign non-competition / non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements and (2) turn on proper security features on all document management systems and databases, such as Google Share Drive, Microsoft 365, Dropbox, etc., and any databases used by the business.
Credit card data (including cardholder names, credit or debit card numbers, and corresponding CVVs) were akin to passwords and usernames that provided access to something of value,” i.e. an individual’s line of credit with a financial institution or money in an account with a financial institution, and were not “trade secrets” under the Defend Trade Secrets Act.
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.
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.
The Fifth Circuit recently considered whether the federal copyright and patent laws preempt (trump) Texas common law claim of unfair competition by misappropriation.