Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

A trade secret is any type of business information not generally known to others. It can include a customer or potential customer list, a sales strategy, a secret formula, or a business method. Trade secrets are very important to businesses because the business might derive most of its profit or maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace based on the safekeeping of the trade secret. Misappropriation occurs when an individual, such as an employee, former employee, vendor, or a third party, discloses a trade secret to the public or to a company's competitor in an unauthorized manner. However, note that a trade secret can be lawfully discovered by a competitor through fair and honest means such as through the owner's accidental public disclosure or through reverse engineering.

If you believe that your business has been the victim of a misappropriated trade secret, contact a business attorney at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. in one of our Boston, Cambridge or Quincy offices today at 617-225-2100 for a FREE consultation.

Massachusetts Trade Secret Law

Trade secrets are protected in Massachusetts by statute and under the common law (but Massachusetts is one of the few states not to recognize the Uniform Trade Secrets Act). Massachusetts defines a trade secret as "anything tangible or intangible or electronically kept or stored, which constitutes, represents, evidences, or records a secret scientific, technical, merchandising, production or management information, design, process, procedure, formula, invention or improvement." The extent to which the owner must take reasonable precautions to protect the trade secret depends on the individual facts of the case. The trade secret must be in continuous use in the business in order to be eligible for protection. Massachusetts also identifies trade secret misappropriation as a criminal offense, punishable by a $25,000 fine or up to five years in prison.

Protect Your Business's Trade Secrets

It is important to set up and maintain a program to protect against the accidental or intentional disclosure of your business's trade secrets. Establish written in-house procedures that every employee must follow regarding the confidentiality of the company's trade secrets. Pay particular attention to any trade secrets contained in software or computer programs. Have all employees sign nondisclosure agreements. Ensure that any contracts or preliminary discussions with vendors relating to possible trade secrets are protected with the use of a confidentiality agreement.

The attorneys at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. can counsel you on any legal matter concerning the protection of your trade secrets. We can help you create and develop security measures to protect your trade secrets from misappropriation. If necessary, we can assist in appropriate legal action to enforce your rights. Contact us today.

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