Many Pennsylvania companies have confidential business information that is classified as a ‘trade secret.’ A trade secret can be the heart of your whole business and the thing that sets you apart from the competition. Some of the most famous ‘trade secrets’ include KFC’s original recipe for fried chicken or the formula for Coca-Cola, but trade secrets can come in many forms including:
- Client lists
- Business processes and methods
- Software programs
Essentially, anything of economic value that provides a company with a competitive business advantage over competitors, that a company takes reasonable measures to keep a secret, could be considered a trade secret.
What is trade secret infringement?
Many companies find themselves involved in business litigation relating to the misappropriation of trade secrets. In many cases, an individual or company is accused of improperly acquiring another company’s trade secret or disclosing another company’s trade secret without consent or authorization. Improper acquisition of a trade secret may involve theft, fraud, bribery, or other illegal activity (e.g. hacking into your employer’s computer, stealing company files). Even a party who receives trade secret information from another source may be liable if they know that the information was acquired improperly.
If an individual or company is found guilty of trade secret misappropriation, the court may grant an injunction to stop the offender from using or disclosing the other company’s trade secret information. The court may also award damages to cover any financial losses suffered by the company with the trade secret and any profits gained by the other company. Punitive damages may also be awarded if the court finds that the other company acted maliciously or willfully.
If you are involved in trade secret litigation with another company, it may be in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can review your case and help come up with a strategy to protect your company’s interests and reputation.