In an age of drag-and-drop digital technology, Buffington Law Firm business litigation attorneys understand the host of challenges associated with disputes that involve improper acquisition of business trade secrets. This article deals with those on the receiving end of such a charge.
Face it: Even the best digital firewalls get breached. Trade Secrets get misappropriated, wrongly acquired, used or made known in a manner that injures the rightful owner of said technology. And then someone takes the heat. If you are on the receiving end of the charge, you need the support of experienced legal professionals. Call on a defense team of California-based lawyers specifically trained in litigation of matters pertaining to small and large business Trade Secret assets. We are here to help.
Essentials of Trade Secret Challenges
Not all complaints involving misappropriation of Trade Secrets involve employees or direct digital theft. Sometimes problems arise when a company is charged for misuse of documents and digital technology that was shared freely but only for a specific purpose. In 2011, Fuhu Holdings, Inc. (collectively tagged "FUHU") initiated a 16 claim Complaint against Toys "R" Us (TRU). Basically, the FUHU lawsuit charged TRU with attempting to capitalize on functional information pertaining to a device that was subject of an exclusive distribution license between the two parties (1). Sixteen charges were filed. Five were dismissed. Case handled by United States District Court Southern District Of California,
Final disposition of the above case remains to be seen. Guilty or innocent, TRU must address the charges. Size has no bearing on the need for defense. Some charges of misappropriation involve corporation giants. Others focus on ex-employees seeking to start up a new business. Either way, having a great defense is just as important as having a grand offense. It starts by understanding the California Uniform Trade Secret Act (CUTSA). The rules are simple: plaintiffs filing a claim for misappropriation of trade secrets must assert two essential statements:
- The reality of an existing trade secret, including delivering to the court and to the defendant sufficient particulars concerning the area under discussion as well as full notification of the problem.
- Charges that said trade secret have been misappropriation by evidencing that the defendants used, disclosed or otherwise improperly acquisitioned the trade secret as detailed in the first item in this argument.
Defending The Attack
Defending such attacks can be complex, difficult and time consuming. However, here are some of the defenses your lawyer may use in your behalf:
- Prove that the data in question is not a trade secrete
- Provide evidence of a proper means available in the attaining of the information
- Long-established equitable defenses
- Evoke a statute of limitations
- Prove that the argument lacks adequate description and particulars of the information
- Prove failure by the owner of the trade secret in areas of data protection, third party alerts, and warnings that prevent a "good faith" acquisition of the information
- Prove that no misappropriation occurred.
Small or large, individual or corporation, the battle to defend against charges of misappropriation of trade secrets can be costly and time consuming. Consider seeking a free legal consultation. Our skillful business litigation attorneys are ready to help!
1) Brooklaw Trade Secrets Institute, "Fuhu Inc. v. Toys "R" Us Inc."