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Austin Trade Secret Lawyer

A trade secret is any information that is valuable to your business because of the fact that it is not generally known by the public and which you take reasonable steps to maintain the secrecy thereof. Since your trade secrets are not known to your competitors, trade secrets provide your business with a competitive edge or advantage over other competing businesses. An Austin trade secret lawyer can help you protect this form of intellectual property.

Types of Trade Secrets

Common types of trade secrets include formulas, methods, techniques, manufacturing processes, programs, devices and customer lists. Unlike other forms of intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks or copyrights, trade secrets are not registered with any government agency. Nevertheless, trade secrets are often a company’s most valuable intellectual property.

Trade secrets lose their value if they become publicly known. Since most trade secrets consist of information that can easily be memorized by employees, contractors, and others, trade secrets are easily misappropriated. Once a trade secret becomes public your competitors can immediately put it to use to their advantage and you may even lose trade secret status under the law.

Trade secrets are most often misappropriated from (i) departing employees who want to use your trade secrets to compete against you or for the benefit of a new employer and (ii) failed collaborations with competitors or other businesses in similar industries. However, an Austin trade secret lawyer can help you take the proper steps to maintain its secrecy, allowing your trade secret to remain a trade secret forever.

State and Federal Protections

There are both federal and state laws that protect trade secrets. In Texas, trade secrets are protected under the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (see TUTSA). On the federal level, trade secrets are protected under the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.

If you have a trade secret and it is stolen by another, you may have a cause of action for theft or misappropriation of trade secret. You may be able to get an injunction to prevent any further disclosure of your trade secret, prevent the disclosure from entering into an employment relationship with a competitor, receive monetary damages equal to the actual loss caused by the misappropriation or impose a reasonable royalty for the unauthorized use of your trade secret. In certain cases, however, criminal penalties may apply.

Other Ways to Protect Trade Secrets

A non-disclosure agreement or NDA is one of the most common methods used to protect trade secrets.  If you have a company trade secret, it is important that you only disclose it to those individuals that are subject to a properly drafted NDA. Disclose only that information that is necessary for the party to know. Clearly define the confidential information you will be disclosing and document everything in case there is a breach of the agreement.

Other ways you can protect your trade secrets include: monitoring employee internet activity, electronic security, employee training, exit interviews, audits, and pre-employment background checks. 

An Austin Trade Secret Attorney Can Help

To maintain the value of your company’s trade secrets, you must take reasonable steps to maintain their confidentiality. An Austin trade secret lawyer can assist your business in developing strategies to keep trade secrets confidential. The business attorneys at Thorsen Legal work hard to maintain the secrecy of your trade secrets and prevent the improper use and disclosure of the same.

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