Trade Secret Law in San Francisco

The California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (CUTSA) prohibits misappropriation of trade secrets and provides remedies.  In addition, California law may impose criminal penalties for stealing trade secrets.

The three basic characteristics of a trade secret are:

  • It is secret
  • It confers a competitive advantage on its owner
  • It is subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy

Forms of trade secrets

Trade secrets can be any of the following:

  • Formulas
  • Plans
  • Designs
  • Patterns
  • Supplier lists
  • Customer lists
  • Financial data
  • Personnel information
  • Physical devices
  • Processes
  • Computer software
  • Know-how

Almost any kind of secret information that relates to a business can be a trade secret.  If you trade secret has been stolen or misappropriated, a skilled IP lawyer can assist if civil litigation or criminal charges become a possibility.

Help with protecting trade secrets from a San Francisco law firm

Whether you have formulas, patterns, plans, designs, devices, processes, or know-how, that you put to use in your business, if you are keeping it or them secret, you are doing so to have an advantage over your competitors.  You need to take affirmative action to keep your secrets from being revealed.  There are a number of ways to protect your business from trade secret theft including the following:

Require confidentiality, non-disclosure agreements, and/or non-compete agreements.

When you have a new hire, someone should sit down and go over these documents with the new employee.  Put your employee on notice that the agreement will be enforced.

Implement internal controls that guard your secrets.

The decision to share trade secrets with employees or vendors should be kept on a strict need-to-know basis.  Do not display secrets on your intranet and only allow necessary employees access to the valued information. Change passwords frequently.

Stick to a firm policy.

If you or your management is lax, it creates an environment for theft of trade secrets.

Communicate with employees.

A trade secret often is stolen because an employee is disgruntled. Treat your employees fairly and with respect to minimize an internal attack. If an employee does leave, hold an exit interview and listen carefully.

Representation for all aspects of trade secret law in San Francisco

If you have questions about trade secret law or trade secret theft, the San Francisco firm of Dergosits & Noah LLP is available to assist you. Contact us about trade secret litigation in San Francisco as well as all aspects of intellectual property law.

Dergosits & Noah LLP
One Embarcadero Center Suite 350, San Francisco, CA 94111     •     415-705-6377

Dergosits & Noah, LLP, Attorneys, San Francisco, CA

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