Keeping proprietary information within the company can present a challenge to Sacramento business owners. Every time an employee leaves, whether voluntarily or otherwise, steps need to be taken in order to make sure that no trade secrets leave with him or her. If an employer discovers that someone did leave the company with one or more trade secrets, it may be necessary to take steps to retrieve the information and protect it. Phillips 66 had to do just that when it turned in to the FBI a former employee who ultimately admitted to taking at least one trade secret upon his resignation.
As a California business owner, you likely have a trade secret or two to protect. We at Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP, are here to give you some ways that you can keep these secrets safe from would-be thieves.
The primary goal of your business or organization is to make your mark within your local industry in Sacramento. While such a phrase is typically used in a metaphorical context, it can often be manifest literally through your company's trademarks. While you likely understand that protections are available to different types of sensitive business material, you may not fully comprehend the distinct differences between them. For example, much confusion exists over what exactly is a trademark.
A highly skilled worker for a technology company leaves to start a new, competing business. The former employer sues the one-time employee, now competitor, for theft of trade secrets. It is an increasingly common scenario in California and elsewhere, one that requires the plaintiff to prove that the knowledge used in the new endeavor represents secret information, to which the one-time worker would only have had access to through his or her work for the company, rather than prior general know-how.
If you own a business in California, you may have something very valuable within your organization that qualifies as a trade secret. If you do, it is essential to understand why they are so valuable. This is the only way to ensure you can protect them and keep them as a valuable company asset.
As California business owners know, protecting business assets is the same as protecting the core of the company. Assets can include everything from the product itself, to the things financially backing it. Trade secrets are one big piece of the pie.
When you hire someone to work for your California business, chances are, you do so because you find this person trustworthy, capable and credible. Regrettably, however, employer-employee relationships sometimes turn sour. If you do not take proper precautions to protect yourself and your business from the outset, you may find that your employees eventually move on and share your insights and intellectual property with your competitors. At Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP, we have helped many business owners make efforts to protect their trade secrets and intellectual property, helping them avoid potential problems before they lead to litigation.
In a general sense, trade secret misappropriation is the improper use or disclosure of information that a company has dedicated a significant amount of time and resources into developing and protecting. California is one of 47 states to have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, but even so, the way in which California courts approach misappropriation claims differs than how other states which have adopted the same laws would.
California is home to many technology companies and residents throughout the state use the products created by these companies in their everyday lives. The origin of the technology in cell phones and other devices can be complex and sometimes the source of a legal battle. Such is the case today in a dispute between Qualcomm and Apple.
For many California businesses, the need to protect a suite of intellectual property is an everyday reality. While most people think about things like patents, copyrights and trademarks or service marks when they consider what might be intellectual property, there is actually another type of IP to consider: trade secrets.