Trade Secrets Litigation
In most U.S. states, a trade secret is defined as "information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process that derives economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, another person who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy." Patents and trade secrets cover much of the same subject matter, but they are very different in practice. Patent applications require full disclosure of the invention, while trade secret law requires secrecy. Patents also normally last for 20 years from the date of filing, while trade secrets can last indefinitely.
Among a company's most valuable assets are its confidential business secrets and the employees entrusted with this information. When employees leave to join competitors or start their own enterprises, it is important to have processes in place that define, protect and enforce trade secrets where necessary.
Our firm's trade secrets litigation experience includes trial, summary judgment, and preliminary and permanent injunctions. The firm has considerable experience with securing protective orders to protect various company interests, including trade secrets. Furthermore, the firm has an Intellectual Property and Technology practice with personnel ably qualified to address any systemic trade secret or other intellectual property issue which may arise in the context of litigation.
As issues arise, our team of litigators has the experience to handle any trade secret matter — whether or not involving high technology — and frequently litigates cases involving misappropriation of trade secrets, restrictive covenants, employee raiding, customer raiding and departures of key employees, including unauthorized removal or transfer of company software to third parties. Our experienced attorneys are able to assist clients in the formulation of methods and procedures to protect confidential and proprietary information and trade secrets. Our attorneys represent employers in contractual, statutory, and tortious conduct claims arising from employment relationships, including enforcement of non-compete and trade secret covenants. We also assist in the preparation of employee and independent contractor confidentiality agreements. Our attorneys know how to assess risk, perform audits and internal investigations, counsel clients and litigate cases when necessary.
In addition to serving our clients' needs with the depth and breadth of Snell & Wilmer’s experience, we use that experience to act as thought leaders in the profession and the marketplace by, among other things, writing and speaking on the pertinent issues. For example,
- New Protections for Trade Secrets Require Fresh Look at Employment Agreements
- Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act Becomes Law, Posing Myriad New Issues to Consider (video)
- If the Defend Trade Secrets Act Becomes Law, How Will it Affect Trade Secrets in Arizona?
- Anything but Uniform: A State-By-State Comparison of the Key Differences of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (cited in Congressional testimony that led to the Senate’s passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act)
- Under Lock and Key: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Patents and Trade Secret Protection
- Safeguarding Your Business' Trade Secrets
We also offer seminars and legal updates for our clients to keep them apprised of changes in trade secret law that may affect their businesses.
We have represented clients ranging from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies across a wide variety of industries. Our experience in disputes, large and small, enables us to effectively tailor our representation to fit each particular client’s needs. We have represented clients in matters involving technology in a broad array of products and services, including, but not limited to, ball bearings, credit cards, dental, electronic components, furnace insulation, GPS, hair treatment, power supply systems, satellite modems, search engine optimization, solar energy and stents and catheters.
We also offer educational seminars and legal updates for our clients to keep them apprised of changes in trade secret law that may affect their businesses.