Trade secrets are governed by state law and by the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA), which provides a uniform federal cause of action. Different states and jurisdictions have put forth their own laws on trade secret misappropriation, and when an action is brought in district court it is common to bring federal and state claims together. Where applicable, we consult the relevant state law.
The DTSA broadly defines “trade secret” as “all forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic, or engineering information, including patterns, plans, compilations, program devices, formulas, designs, prototypes, methods, techniques, processes, procedures, programs, or codes, whether tangible or intangible, and whether or how stored, compiled, or memorialized physically, electronically, graphically, photographically, or in writing if
(A) the owner thereof has taken reasonable measures to keep such information secret; and
(B) the information derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable through proper means by, another person who can obtain economic value from the disclosure or use of the information.”
There are two ways an entity may be found liable for trade secrets infringement and/or misappropriation under the DTSA:
(1) acquisition of a trade secret of another by a person who knows or has reason to know that the trade secret was acquired by improper means, or
(2) disclosure or use of a trade secret of another without express or implied consent.
Remedies under the DTSA include injunctive relief, payment of a reasonable royalty, damages (including exemplary damages double the damages amount already awarded), attorneys’ fees, and, in exceptional circumstances, civil seizure.
If you are a trade secret owner and you believe you have a trade secrets infringement claim or you are being accused of trade secrets infringement and require assistance, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us to speak to one of our attorneys.
District of Columbia Law
Trade secret misappropriation in the District of Columbia is governed by the District of Columbia Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“DCUTSA”). The DCUTSA defines a “trade secret” to mean information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process, that: (1) derives actual or potential independent economic value, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by, proper means by another who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and (2) is the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. Various types of information, including portions of software, features within software, and customer lists, have been found to be trade secrets under the DCUTSA.
A person or entity may be found liable for trade secret misappropriation under the DCUTSA if the following two elements are met: (1) existence of a trade secret; and (2) acquisition of the trade secret by improper means, or improper use or disclosure by one under a duty not to disclose.
Remedies under the DCUTSA include injunctive relief, damages including payment of reasonable royalties, exemplary damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.