What Should I Do If A California Employee Steals A Trade Secret?

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Mark B. Wilson - Business Litigation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Mark B. Wilson

Located in Newport Beach, CAKlein & Wilson

Newport Beach, CA
Phone: 949-478-0521
Fax: 949-631-3703

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For many companies, trade secrets are the most important asset of the company. Some people mistakenly believe trade secrets must be something equivalent to the Coca-Cola formula, which has been a carefully hidden secret for almost a century. But trade secrets can be protected even if they are not a secret formula. A trade secret generally consists of any nonpublic information that would be valuable in the hands of a competitor. Trade secrets include confidential customer lists, methods of doing business, formulas, computer source code, recipes and other types of other nonpublic information. When companies hire employees to create inventions, the employer typically owns those inventions, and courts often treat them as trade secrets. If companies take reasonable steps to protect the secrecy of their trade secret, California courts will likely protect the trade secret from those attempting to steal it.

To operate a business, employers often disclose trade secrets to employees so the business can run efficiently. Sometimes, employers entrust their most important customers to employees and support the employees in every way so those employees can bring in more business. When employees betray that trust and steal business for themselves, California courts can step in to stop the theft and provide financial remedies to the victimized employer. If the court concludes the misappropriation of the trade secret was willful and malicious, or a claim of misappropriation was made in bad faith, the court has discretion to also award attorneys’ fees.

Whether you are an employer who has been victimized by dishonest employees or if you are an employee who wants to leave a company without running afoul of trade secret laws, you should contact an attorney who understands California trade secrets law and knows how to navigate through the legal system. Klein & Wilson has significant experience handling trade secrets matters. If you have trade secrets questions, call Klein & Wilson at 949-478-0521 and ask for Gerald Klein.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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