A company’s success is closely tied to its ability to protect its intellectual property and trade secrets. That’s why it’s critical to work with a legal partner with extensive experience in the highly specialized area of trade secret litigation.
What is Trade Secret Litigation?
Trade secret litigation involves a company’s or individual’s most confidential technical, financial, or business information, which the company or individual considers its “trade secrets.” For example, the formula for Coca-Cola has been protected as a trade secret for over 100 years. Trade secret cases often involve a former employee who takes his or her former employer’s proprietary information and discloses it to his or her new employer, which is frequently a competitor. Or the case may involve two companies to a joint venture who exchange trade secrets under non-disclosure agreements, and one company later decides to go on its own while using the other company’s confidential information. In today’s digital age, trade secrets are increasingly stolen by malicious hacking into a competitor’s network infrastructure.
The biggest challenge for trade secret owners often is maintaining the secrecy of the trade secret. Once sensitive financial or business information is publicly disclosed, its value as a trade secret may be worthless. No amount of damages from a successful lawsuit may ever remedy the loss. For this reason, when trade secret theft is suspected, the owner must act expeditiously to obtain a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunctive relief to prevent the trade secret from being further exposed. Where the trade secret is kept electronically, The Rapacke Law Group often requests the Court appoint a forensic examiner to investigate the extent of the theft. A swift preliminary investigation can form the basis to then request the Court to take action to seize or thwart any further dissemination.
For an accused misappropriator, or for an employer who is alleged to have hired an accused misappropriator, engaging a forensic expert and commissioning a thorough internal investigation may prove critical to gathering evidence and establishing defenses. In addition to potential civil liability, criminal exposure is a serious risk under federal statutes such as the Economic Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Mounting a robust defense on both civil and criminal fronts simultaneously requires experienced counsel with a strategic eye toward favorable resolution.
Once in litigation, the case often centers on whether the alleged trade secrets actually qualify for protection, whether they were misappropriated, and whether the trade secret owner suffered damages from any misappropriation. To qualify for protection, trade secret owners must prove that they took reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality of their trade secrets, such as requiring non-disclosure agreements for anyone who works with the trade secrets, and limiting the distribution of the trade secrets to the smallest group necessary. Trade secret cases frequently involve expert witnesses, who testify on issues ranging from whether the proprietary information is a trade secret to whether a trade secret was stolen by unauthorized use of a computer to the value of trade secrets and damages for their theft.
“The Rapacke Law Group brings to the table an unparalleled ability to understand the issues that are subject to expert opinion.”
Combining our depth of technical knowledge and our unique ability to make the complex understandable, The Rapacke Law Group has unparalleled expertise in managing, conducting and winning trade secret cases.