Businesses in Michigan often derive much of their value through trade secrets. Although they often take many steps to protect this valuable information, sometimes the information is reportedly conveyed to others to the detriment of the business. This can lead to accusations of trade secret misappropriation.
What is a trade secret?
Trade secrets are tangible or intangible forms of information that an employer has taken reasonable actions to keep secret. Trade secrets also must derive economic value from being kept secret. Trade secrets be financial information, business information, technical information, scientific information or engineering information. Some examples of trade secrets include patterns, formulas, designs, methods and programs, among other ways of storing or using information.
What constitutes the trade secret misappropriation?
Sometimes trade secrets are misappropriated, which can harm employers. One element of the misappropriation of trade secrets is intent. There must be an intent to take the trade secret in order to economically benefit someone other than the owner and with the intent or knowledge that the theft of the trade secret will injure the owner of the trade secret. To be considered trade secret misappropriation, the person or entity conveying the trade secret must knowingly take it through without the authorization of the owner of the trade secret. Also, to be considered misappropriation of trade secrets, the owner of the trade secret must have taken steps to protect it. Trade secret misappropriation also occurs if a person or entity copies, draws, photographs, downloads or in some other way conveys the trade secret without authorization.
Trade secret misappropriation can damage a business’ bottom line and operations. It can also lead to litigation and stiff fines for the entity committing it. If you believe you have been the victim of trade secret misappropriation or if you are being accused of committing trade secret misappropriation you will want to understand your rights and options in the business litigation process.