A trade secret is an important type of a business’s intellectual property for which the laws of Florida afford protection. A trade secret can be a formula, a proprietary device, a recipe or even a list of clients. Anything that is proprietary to a business and that gives the business an advantage over competitors who do not possess the information or do not have the knowledge to use the information could be considered a trade secret. Theft of a trade secret in Florida could give rise to a business tort claim and possibly even criminal charges.
In the Sunshine State, trade secrets are protected by the Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Under the act, someone whose trade secret has been appropriated can move for injunctive relief to prevent the secret from being used or disseminated in business. The owner of the trade secret can also file suit for monetary damages, including those for actual financial losses, reasonable royalties for unauthorized disclosure of the secret and unjust enrichment.
If misappropriation of the trade secret was intentional, the person or entity that took the information without authorization could also be charged with theft under Florida’s criminal statutes. One way that a business can be proactive in protecting trade secrets is through the use of noncompete and/or non- disclosure agreements. Both of these types of agreements are private contracts between a firm and an employee or contractor.
Such agreements create a private cause of action – breach of contract – in the event a trade secret is stolen or divulged. They also allow a business to more clearly define what they are seeking to protect so that there is no room for misunderstanding about what constitutes a trade secret and what the penalties for misappropriation will be. An experienced business litigation attorney can offer the best advice on protecting your trade secrets.
Source: FindLaw.com, “Protecting Trade Secrets,” accessed May 8, 2018