Misappropriation of trade secrets can land you in hot water; especially if the company you took the trade secrets from had taken the appropriate steps to ensure that their trade secret was protected. As a result, it’s likely to be in your best interest to obtain a criminal defense attorney for their skills in strategically planning your defense.
Trade secrets are a form of intellectual property that can give businesses the upper hand against their competitors. A business should take measures to ensure that their trade secrets are protected and not shared with the public. The following are examples of well-known trade secrets:
- Coca Cola
- Kentucky Fried Chicken Recipe
- Google Algorithm
Trade secrets are not protected in the same way that other forms of intellectual property are. Protecting a trade secret from being shared with the public really comes down to a business owner putting proper protections in place to keep their trade secrets secured by:
- The trade secret must be kept a secret, meaning the majority of employees do not have access to it.
- The company must take steps to protect the trade secret, for example: restrict access, require employees to sign non-disclosure agreements, utilizing proper cyber security to protect trade secret information.
- The trade secret must be of value to the business.
TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) outlines that by taking the above measures, a businesses’ trade secret can be legally protected from being misappropriated.
Misappropriation of a Trade Secret or Economic Espionage
When a business takes specific measures, they are offered legal protections for their trade secret. Stealing a trade secret is considered to be a form of economic espionage. This is when a person or company steals information that is economically important to a company. This could result in significant financial losses for a business. In recent years, enforcement of misappropriation of trade secrets has increased to prevent companies in other countries from gaining information that would have an impact on the US economy and its’ businesses.
Penalties for the Misappropriation Of Trade Secrets
There can be steep penalties for the misappropriation of a trade secret, especially if it resulted in the trade secret no longer being a secret. This could result in significant financial loss for a company. If you are being investigated or have been charged with the misappropriation of a trade secret, it will be important that you obtain a criminal defense attorney. If you were responsible for the misappropriation of trade secrets, you could be held liable for damages. Trade secrets are considered a federal crime under the Economic Espionage Act of 1966, which has been amended to provide stronger protections for trade secrets. The penalties if convicted for misappropriating trade secrets may include:
- Up to 10 years in prison
- Fines of up to $250,000 for an individual
- Fines of up to $5 million for a corporation
- If the economic espionage was to benefit a government, ramifications are far more severe.
When there are charges against you, ensure that you have a criminal defense attorney for the following reasons:
- Cases surrounding economic espionage are highly complex and require a legal team to help sort through the details and develop a strategy.
- An attorney with the experience you require to represent you in the court process
- They will go over the details of your case to see if charges can be reduced or even dismissed.
Dealing with the legal world is incredibly complex, especially when a person has no legal experience. Criminal defense lawyers Melbourne, Florida residents trust can provide you with representation during a time that can be filled with uncertainties.
If you have been accused of misappropriating trade secrets, the penalties you may face if convicted could be steep. Speak with a criminal defense attorney to help you navigate through this complicated process.
Thank you to our contributors at Arcadier, Biggie & Wood, PLLC for the above information.