Practice Areas

Trade Secrets Attorney in Sacramento

Many businesses depend on company secrets or some quality that gives them a unique edge over competitors. If those advantages are exposed, stolen, or unfairly replicated, the violated enterprise is more than likely owed compensation for the damage done to its business by unfair business practices. A company’s trade secrets are vital to its success. Once they are lost, what separates them from competitors? A skilled Sacramento trade secrets lawyer that understands the details of trade secret law is an indispensable asset in situations like these.

The Nature of Secrets

The state considers a trade secret any information that has tangible value to the owner. The owner simply must established the effort to maintain its secrecy. The legal system considers three factors to see if a piece of information qualifies as a trade secret:

  • The potential value the information has to the business that holds it. This is subjective, and determining the exact value of a piece of information may depend on several sources of information. For example, imagine a secret change in a soft drink formula directly led to a spike in sales. This likely means the adjustment was the cause of the increased sales. This is a general example, but it shows how the effects of a trade secret can be difficult to accurately determine.
  • The efforts made or precautions taken to maintain the information’s secrecy. Another subjective factor, an entity or individual must prove it took steps specifically to preserve its trade secret.
  • The portion of the secret information known to both internal parties and external entities—and by how many. This somewhat relates to the previous factor; information known company-wide may not be adequately guarded, disqualifying it as a trade secret.

The only piece of objective information a company has is the number of people that know the information. A skilled legal team of Sacramento business law attorneys can assist in determining other factors by following specific avenues of inquiry and assessing information from several sources. An experienced trade secrets lawyer in Sacramento will know where to find this information and how to use it in a case. A plaintiff must establish that the information in question qualifies as a trade secret, that the company took reasonable precautions to ensure its secrecy, and that a competitor illicitly acquired the trade secret.

Precaution and Misappropriation

One question that might arise when considering trade secrets is why not patent the valuable information? If a company patents a trade secret, it becomes public knowledge. Patenting makes the information public, and airtight patent protection is nearly impossible. Patents also eventually expire, and once they do, the information is legally fair game.

There are some safeguards for trade secrets. Business law protects owners of trade secrets from misappropriation. This essentially means trade secrets cannot be obtained by illegal or unethical means. This may involve outright thefts, bribes, corporate espionage, or other deceptions. If a valid duty of confidentiality binds the person in possession of a trade secret, it constitutes misappropriation if he or she shares said info.

Proving a case of trade secret violation can be complex and requires careful attention to detail as well the knowledge of where to find the pertinent information that will support a claim. Depending on the degree of willful and malicious intent the defendant’s part, the recompense owed to the plaintiff may include punitive damages in addition to the normal penalties. A skilled trade secret lawyer is invaluable in ensuring the maximum compensation in cases such as these. The legal professionals of Boyd Law Firm in Sacramento are intimately familiar with the complex business litigation that can surround trade secret claims. Contact us today for more information.