When someone publishes or obtains a company’s trade secrets, the company might be able to make a legal claim against that individual. This type of claim is called trade secret misappropriation, and it’s essential for business owners in Georgia to understand how these laws work.
What is a trade secret?
In most cases, a trade secret refers to private information that gives the company a business advantage. The information has to remain a secret to keep that competitive advantage, so the company is expected to keep it private.
Trade secret misappropriation can happen when someone improperly obtains a trade secret. This can come in the form of bribery, theft, fraud or breach of a confidentiality agreement. There is also industrial espionage, which is when one company spies on another. It’s also considered trade secret misappropriation if you coerce someone else to breach their duty to keep the information secret.
What does trade secret misappropriation look like?
A common instance of this crime is when individuals take confidential information home with them. Such action may violate their contract if they have a duty to keep the information private. A more dramatic example is when someone breaks into a company-owned computer and copies files containing trade secret information.
Those who acquire this confidential information themselves don’t have to publish or disclose it for them to be liable for trade secret misappropriation. But it is also considered misappropriation when someone publishes the information if they know it has been improperly acquired. Business law around trade secrets is in place to protect companies from these actions.
Trade secrets are governed by state law. In most places in the U.S., a version of the Uniform Trade Secret Act or UTSA is used. Individual states have made their own slight modifications, but trade secret laws are largely uniform across the U.S.
Private information held by companies that give them a competitive advantage is known as trade secrets. When such information is improperly obtained or published, it is classified as trade secret misappropriation, which is prohibited by law.