Business & Commercial Trade Secrets
Here in the State of Texas, a “trade secret” refers to any scientific or technical information, process, concept, process, methodology, specification, or improvement, in whole or in part, that has a specific value and that a business has taken steps to ensure the prevention of physical or intellectual property becoming available to persons other than those to whom the owner has granted specific access to for limited purposes.
Trade secrets are most effectively protected by a well-drafted confidentiality and non-compete contract signed the employees. A common misperception is that courts will not enforce a non-compete agreement. Courts will enforce reasonable restrictions on competition to protect secrets and the goodwill in a non-compete agreement, but the restrictions must be reasonable in time, geographic, and scope of activity.
Misappropriation Of Trade Secrets
An employee opening a new business using his or her former employer’s customer lists, methods of operation, or other trade secrets is a common occurrence. The law can protect the employer, but only if a lawsuit is filed quickly.
The attorneys of Gray Becker, P.C. know how to stop the misappropriation of trade secrets and work diligently to protect clients’ interests.
Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act
The Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA) provides additional protections to business owners and can provide relief in many cases where the business owner does not have a non-compete in place. The TUTSA defines a trade secret as “information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, process, financial data, or list of actual or potential customers or suppliers that (1) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and (2) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.” (See § 134A.002(6)).
Where a trade secret has been misappropriated, the plaintiff can recover damages caused by the misappropriation. In some cases, the plaintiff can obtain injunctive relief in the form of an order prohibiting further disclosure or use of the trade secret. Exemplary damages are also available in appropriate cases.
Seeking the help of a qualified attorney, familiar with the laws protecting trade secrets, to assist in drafting confidentiality, employment, and partnership contracts can provide business owners added certainty regarding any claims and even help reduce the cost of extended litigation.
An attorney familiar with these aspects of Texas law becomes even more essential should an issue arise that requires litigation.
Act Quickly to Protect Your Business
Without a restraining order or injunction, the former employee may cause significant damage to a company by using the company’s proprietary information. Our attorneys can obtain a temporary restraining order to protect a business’s trade secrets and goodwill.
The next step is a hearing where we will argue that the restraining order should be converted to a permanent injunction.
The litigators of Gray Becker, P.C. have many years of experience representing clients in these matters. We assist business clients with various matters related to proprietary information, including:
- Violations of confidentiality agreements
- Violations of covenants not to compete (also called non-compete agreements)
- Unfair competition
- Trademark infringement
- Misappropriation of trade secret
Enforcing Noncompete Agreements
Our firm has represented clients in the high-tech industry, insurance companies, and retailers. Many lawyers take cases involving trade secrets, but our experience sets us apart. Gray Becker knows how to respond effectively to these issues and deliver the quality representation our clients expect.
Our lawyers are known for their skills in the courtroom. We are never afraid to take a case to trial because we understand the level of expertise and preparation required to be successful.
To discuss your issue with our business lawyers, contact Gray & Becker, P.C. online. Our offices are among the historic homes of Austin, and we serve clients throughout Central Texas.