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Trade Secrets

What is the best way to keep your secret formula or process from being known to your competitors? Trade secrets are the fourth type of intellectual property that may, at times, be confusing or misinterpreted because it is unlike any other kind of intellectual property. Though it does not require registration, specific measures need to be undertaken to maintain its privacy and be able to claim damages during a lawsuit. Speak to a complex business attorney today if you suspect a misappropriation of your trade secret.

Lawyer for Trade Secrets in Miami, FL

Infringement of intellectual property like trade secrets is a serious offense that could also be criminal in nature. Trade secrete infringement or misappropriation can cause serious damage to a business or commercial entity.

Our attorneys at Abrams Justice are experienced in complex business cases in which a company is pursuing damages for stolen intellectual property. Misappropriation of a trade secret is a serious matter, and its perpetrators should be held accountable.

Call (305) 709-0880 to schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys or fill out a free case review form on our website. We work with clients in the cities of Miami, Hialeah, Hempstead, and more.

Trade Secrets Information Center

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What are Trade Secrets?

Trade secrets are an intellectual property belonging to any legal or commercial entity generally used for business and can come in the form of any of the following (Fla. Stat. § 688.002):

  • Formula
  • Pattern
  • Compilation
  • Program
  • Device
  • Method
  • Technique
  • Process

The concept of trade secrets rarely comes up unless during a case of misappropriation of a trade secret(s) through improper means. Fla. Stat. § 688.002 refers to improper means as “theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach of inducement or a breach of duty to maintain secrecy or espionage through electronic or other means.” Misappropriation of trade secrets is only plausible if the trade secret has contained the two following elements:

  1. The trade secret provides an economic value (actual or potential) to the success of the legal or commercial entity, and its secrecy is meant to keep others from gaining economic value; and
  2. The company has taken extensive measures to protect the trade secret from being widely known.

A trade secret may not be considered a trade secret if it is something that may not be widely known to the general public but is a widely known fact within the industry. The most famously known example of a trade secret is the secret formula for making Coca-Cola or Coke. The Coca-Cola company has never patented their signature drink formula, instead claiming they have a system in place to continue keeping it a secret.

Since Coca-Cola is a worldwide known company and has been around for almost a century, chances are others may have figured out the secret to the recipe. A lawsuit for trade secret misappropriation is only viable if someone with access to the trade secret misappropriates the secret for business advantages. Similarly, if a competitor goes to subversive measures to steal a trade secret, such as breaking into a competitor company’s office, they could be facing a lawsuit and be held accountable. On the other hand, any individual who may have figured out the Coca-Cola recipe all on their own may be free from a lawsuit.

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Trade Secrets vs. Other Types of Intellectual Property

Trade secrets are mostly like any other intellectual property in which you hope to maintain ownership over property that has value. Trade secrets are different from patents, for example, for which registration is required. Patents, similar to trademarks and copyright, the other three forms of intellectual property, should be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to reduce the likelihood of infringement.

Do trade secrets require registration?

Trade secrets do not require registration because registration will require the owner of the trade secret to divulge the secret to the government and make the secret widely known, which would prevent the trade secret from remaining confidential.

Why not use a patent?

Again, a patent divulges the secret to the public and is also generally only valid for 20 years. After that, they become available to anyone for use, if not renewed. Trade secrets, on the other hand, do not need to become divulged as long as they can be kept confidential. Trade secrets are a cost-free way to save valuable information within the company, and only the company.

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Florida Law for Trade Secrets & Compensation

The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) was the standard uniform act for states inside the U.S. to adopt a type of trade secrets law for misappropriation of trade secrets. However, each state has developed its version of the law into their state legislature. Florida states its Uniform Trade Secrets Act in Fla. Stat. § 688.002 providing specific definitions for “misappropriation” and “improper means” during a case. Damages during a trade secrets misappropriation lawsuit may include payment for the actual loss and any earnings received by the defendant. The plaintiff may also be awarded exemplary damages, attorney’s fees, and preservation of secrecy.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) was enacted in 2016 by President Barack Obama. Within the DTSA, a lawsuit for trade secrets misappropriation brought to the federal court will abide by the DTSA law regardless of the state handling the lawsuit. The DTSA closed a lot of the loopholes surrounding trade secrets law ranging from state to state.

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International Law for Trade Secrets

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has provided standard uniformity for what is considered a misappropriation of trade secrets within the countries inside NAFTA.

Other countries outside of NAFTA have general laws for trading as formed by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Though trade secrets is not a term used within the WTO, certain types of intellectual property are regarded under the same authority as trade secrets.

Companies who are to distribute or operate their product in certain countries may which to research specific laws concerning those countries; otherwise, the laws that protect trade secret misappropriation in the U.S. may not apply fully.

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Additional Resources

Defend Trade Secrets Act | American Bar Association (ABA) – The American Bar Association (ABA) goes more in-depth about the provisions written into the 2016 Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA). The DTSA has been used in various federal cases for trade secrets since its enactment.

World Trade Organization (WTO) | Intellectual Property – The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a world organization establishing rules of trade between countries. The WTO is comprised of 164 member countries and 24 observing governments. Learn more about the WTO by clicking on the page.

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Miami-Dade County Trade Secrets Attorney

Individuals work hard to build a business and come up with innovative ways to differentiate itself from the rest. No one has the right to your intellectual property if you have not permitted them. You can hold the individual or entity who has misappropriated your trade secrets accountable.

Our complex business litigators are determined to protect all rights to your trade secrets. If you file a lawsuit, you may be eligible to receive compensatory damages, and on certain occasions even punitive damages if the trade secret misappropriation has caused you a severe loss.

We make ourselves available to you for a free telephonic consultation. Schedule a confidential consultation with our attorneys by calling (305) 709-0880. We work with residents throughout Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County areas.