Trade secrets are closely-guarded processes, systems, documents, electronic files, or information that provide an economic edge over competitors. Trade secrets often form the core of a business, and both the Michigan Legislature and Congress have given businesses a robust set of tools to enforce the secrecy of trade secrets and to punish those who take them. In fact, trade secrets are so important to the American economy and companies that Congress recently enacted The Defend Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1836, et seq. to provide even more firepower to combat trade secret misappropriation, including double damages and attorney fees.
Even experienced business professionals commonly mistakenly believe that trade secrets must be registered, trademarked, or copyrighted to qualify for trade secret protection. This is not the case—a business does not need to do anything special for trade secret protection other than keep the economically-valuable information secret and secure. Secrecy is sometimes achieved through confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements but can also be accomplished through restricted access to the information.
Here is a brief table of items that can qualify as trade secrets under the appropriate circumstances:
- Pricing information and lists
- Bidding, RFP, and RFQ documents and processes
- Compilations of valuable information
- Cost models and structures
- Customer and prospect lists
- Scientific formulas
- Devices and programs
Unscrupulous business partners, contractors, vendors, and former employees can do immense damage by unfairly taking or using your trade secrets. Experience shows that the wisest and most successful businesses safeguard their trade secrets and prioritize their protection through swift legal remedies.
I routinely pursue court relief to address trade secret misappropriation and obtain quick relief. In these cases, the law grants businesses expedited access to the courts so that the judge may quickly enter orders to halt this misconduct and return your businesses’ valuable property.