Every business has some amount of confidential and proprietary information that it does not want its competitors knowing. When someone uses a business’ confidential information without consent, or threatens to do so, filing a claim for misappropriation of trade secrets is one way for a business to protect its information.
Texas law defines a trade secret as:
. . . information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, process, financial data, or list of actual or potential customers or suppliers, that:
- (A) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and
(B) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.
A trade secret may be misappropriated in a number of ways. The first, and most predominant, involves the acquiring of trade secrets by improper means, such as an employee accessing information he or she has no authority to access.
The second category of misappropriation deals with the acquisition of the trade secret by mistake or accident, the person had reason to know that it was a trade secret, and the person used or disclosed the trade secret without consent.
The third category involves misappropriation stemming from the proper and even invited acquisition of trade secrets. This category includes claims that arise often in the employment context. In the context of their employment, employees often receive varying degrees of confidential and proprietary information from their employers.
While it is always wise for employers to protect this information through covenants not to compete, non-solicitation agreements, and non-disclosure agreements, this third category provides some degree of protection against the misuse of an employer’s trade secrets by an employee or ex-employee.
Our attorneys have years of experience protecting employers’ confidential information and trade secrets. Whether or not you have a non-compete or nondisclosure agreement in place, we will use all avenues available to protect your interests.